"Voters should not lose their right to vote simply because they have decided not to express that right in recent elections."
Voting rights advocates in Georgia vowed to fight for the rights of more than 300,000 people in the state whose registrations may be purged from the rolls in the coming weeks by Republican Gov. Brian Kemp's administration.
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced Monday that about 330,000 voter registrations may be canceled in early December if the voters do not confirm that they still live in the state. The purge is targeting people who have not voted in the last five years and could affect about four percent of the state's eligible voters.
"Having a long history of voter suppression, the Georgia secretary of state's office has a responsibility to guarantee that not a single voter is wrongly included on the purge list."
—Lauren Groh-Wargo, Fair Fight Action
"Voters should not lose their right to vote simply because they have decided not to express that right in recent elections," Fair Fight Action's Lauren Groh-Wargo told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The group was founded by Stacey Abrams, the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial candidate in the state.
While Kemp was serving as secretary of state in 2017, his office oversaw the largest purge of voter registrations in U.S. history, kicking more than 534,000 people off the rolls. Voting rights groups condemned Georgia's Republican leaders for what they saw as massive voter suppression effort—especially after Kemp went on to win the 2018 election by 1.4 percentage points.
"Having a long history of voter suppression, the Georgia secretary of state's office has a responsibility to guarantee that not a single voter is wrongly included on the purge list," Groh-Wargo told the Journal-Constitution.
This year, election officials will have to notify voters before their registrations are purged—a requirement that wasn't in effect in 2018. Notifications warning of the purge will be sent out to voters' last known addresses in early November and recipients will have 30 days to respond before their names are removed from state records.
The nonpartisan group Georgia Voter Guide posted an image of the form on social media and warned voters to respond if they receive the notification.
#Georgia will be mailing these #PurgeNotices to over 330,000 GA voters starting next week. Watch your mail! If you… https://t.co/nBRpNdyi00— GeorgiaVoter.Guide (@GeorgiaVoter.Guide)1572317465.0
Fair Fight also tweeted that it plans to organize volunteer phone banks and other efforts to contact voters who will be receiving the forms.
In Ohio, for instance, nearly 20 percent of voters set to be purged were active, eligible voters. Having a long his… https://t.co/Lj4fGAPJnW— Fair Fight (@Fair Fight)1572290746.0
We encourage anyone who receives a postcard to return it right away, and we encourage all voters to periodically ch… https://t.co/ynsXbCUTrv— Fair Fight (@Fair Fight)1572290747.0
The group filed a lawsuit against the state earlier this year alleging that during the 2018 election Kemp's former office kept voters from the polls by canceling registrations and well as closing hundreds of precincts in rural areas that were largely populated by low-income and black residents.
On Monday, American Public Media (APM) reported that Georgia's voter registration deadline—one of the strictest in the country, requiring voters to register at least 29 days before an election—kept 87,000 people from voting in 2018.
"This is why every state should have Election Day registration," tweeted journalist Ari Berman.
87,000 people unable to vote in Georgia in 2018 because they registered after the deadline (GA cuts off registratio… https://t.co/lBMJcisy02— Ari Berman (@Ari Berman)1572281671.0
Voting experts say deadlines and confirmation forms like those Georgia is requiring don't reflect the reality of how many Americans vote.
"A significant part of the electorate makes up its mind on the day of the election," political science professor Robert Alexander told APM. "What's important is that people who want to go to the polls should be able to."