News

Georgia To End Controversial Step In Voter Roll Deletions

Last year, a pool of 168,941 registered voters who moved within the same county were sent notices by the Secretary of State’s office. If they did not respond within 30 days, they would have been listed as “inactive,” triggering a process that could ultimately result in their name being removed from the voter rolls.
Credit David Goldman / Associated Press
Audio version of this story here.

Georgia’s Secretary of State’s office will “instruct” local elections officials to automatically update addresses for people who move within the same county as part of a settlement reached in a lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Georgia against Secretary of State Brian Kemp, and the Fulton County Board of Registration and Elections.

In the short term, the mutual agreement means the information of 35,000 Georgians will be updated. It will also make voting easier in the future for people who move within the same county, said Sean Young, legal director with the ACLU of Georgia.

“If someone’s address isn’t updated they may show up at the wrong polling place,” Young said. “They’re supposed to be given an opportunity at that point to go ahead and vote and have the opportunity to change their address at the polling site. But sometimes what happens is the voter gets frustrated and then they’re turned away. They look for their correct polling place and they may not have enough time to find the correct polling place.”

Last year, a pool of 168,941 registered voters who moved within the same county were sent notices by the Secretary of State’s office. If they did not respond within 30 days, they would have been listed as “inactive,” triggering a process that could ultimately result in their name being removed from the voter rolls.

That would have happened if they didn’t vote in the next two federal elections, officially contact elections officials, or update their registration information.

In July, following the lawsuit from the ACLU of Georgia challenging the practice, the Secretary of State’s office changed its policy, and those 168,941 people were no longer listed as “inactive.”

On Friday, Kemp, a Republican running for governor, celebrated the settlement reached with the ACLU days before a public hearing was scheduled.

“Georgia scored another victory for keeping the voter rolls up-to-date and preventing voter fraud,” said Kemp in an emailed statement. “This agreement allows us to continue robust voter list maintenance in the future, and we will continue our work to keep the rolls accurate.”

Kemp has previously said the ACLU is part of a group of “leading liberal conspiracy theorists.”

“We will comply with the settlement,” said Richard Barron, Fulton County director of registration and elections in an emailed statement.