About 4% of Georgia voters are set to be taken off the state’s voter rolls in December, although voters will be notified and have the opportunity to confirm they would like to stay registered.
The Georgia Secretary of State’s Office has announced that it will mail out notices next week to the last known addresses of people who have been in “inactive” status for more than three years and had no contact with election officials during that time, including for voting.
A voter’s status becomes inactive when they do not respond to a confirmation card asking them to confirm or update their information. The confirmation cards are sent to people who have filed a National Change of Address Card with the U.S. Postal Service indicating that they have moved, had election mail returned as undeliverable or did not have any contact with election officials, including not voting, for the three prior years. This contact includes voting in any election or primary, signing a petition, updating voter registration, or requesting an absentee ballot, according to the Secretary of State’s Office. Renewing or updating a driver’s license is also considered contact, unless the person has opted out.
Voters have 30 days from the date of the notice to let the state know they would like their registration to remain active. They can return the postage-paid postcard they receive, update their registration on the Secretary of State’s website or smartphone app, or go to their local elections office. The Hall County Elections Office is in the Hall County Government Center, 2875 Browns Bridge Road in Gainesville.
The list of 313,243 registrations subject to cancellation is available on the Secretary of State’s website.
Of the list, 108,306, or 34.6% filed a change of address request with the U.S. Postal Service showing they have moved to a different county or state, according to the Secretary of State’s Office. Another 84,376, or 26.9%, had election mail returned as undeliverable.
The remaining 120,561, or 38.5%, have had no contact with their county election officials since before the 2012 presidential election and did not respond to a confirmation card sent by their county elections office.
Federal and state law require election officials to do list maintenance on records where the person has died or moved to a new address. Georgia law requires removal of registration records that have been “inactive” for two general elections and have had no contact with election officials during that time. A state law passed earlier this year requires election officials to mail a notice to the last known address of people prior to removing them from the voter rolls due to an address change.
Chris Harvey, the state’s elections director, said the practice keeps voter lists accurate.
“Accurate voter lists limit confusion and delays at polling places on Election Day, and make sure voters get the correct ballot,” Harvey said in a statement. “Accurate registration lists also allow county election offices to plan for polling place equipment and staffing needs. Accurate voter lists reduce the opportunities for mistakes or fraud.”
The removal of registrations from the voter rolls has received criticism from some who say the practice unfairly disenfranchises people. Stacey Abrams, the 2018 Democratic candidate for governor of Georgia, founded the group Fair Fight, which advocates for election reform.
The organization’s leader said Monday she was concerned about the planned cleanup of the voter list.
“Voters should not lose their right to vote simply because they have decided not to express that right in recent elections,” Lauren Groh-Wargo, CEO of Fair Fight Action, said in a statement. “Anytime a voter purge is conducted, errors can be made, including active voters being wrongly included on the list.”
Voters can check their status at mvp.sos.ga.gov.