By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Opinion: Georgia's voter list purge isn’t voter fraud
11052019 POLL 5.jpg

In the midst of an impeachment and a Senate appointment, Georgia made headlines for a different reason last week: voter roll purges. 

A federal judge allowed the Secretary of State’s office to remove 313,243 registered voters from its rolls. This comes after the then secretary of state Brian Kemp purged more than 500,000 voters one year before the 2018 midterms. 

National media outlets have touted this as a prime example of widespread systematic voter suppression by Republicans, but beyond the headlines reads a different story entirely.

The federal government mandates Georgia clean its voter rolls on a regular basis. This is in large part because of Georgia’s automatic voter registration. This system allows Georgia drivers to automatically register to vote when they renew their license. This has led to our state having record high numbers of registered voters every year. In 2019 alone, Georgia had over 350,000 new voters added to the roles. While this system has led to great strides in voter turnout and registration, it has one major flaw — it doesn’t unregister voters who are registered in multiple states, have moved or have died. This is why Georgia is required to purge its voter rolls, to keep the list up to date and to prevent possible voter fraud.

Not all states share voter rolls, leading to a massive gap in information for Georgia officials. For example, if you move from Georgia to South Carolina the Secretary of State’s office in South Carolina would contact the Secretary of State here in Georgia to remove the voter from the Georgia rolls. However, if you moved to Tennessee or any other of the 20 states that don’t share rolls, Georgia officials would not know to remove you from the voter rolls. To keep the records up to date the Secretary of State’s office removes voters who haven’t voted in more than seven years.

Of the 313,243 voters removed last week, 192,682 have verifiably moved out of the state. The remaining 120,561 have not voted since before the 2012 presidential election. After seven years of not showing up to polls these voters are sent mail for 12 months notifying them that unless they contact local officials, their name will be removed. After seven years of no showing at the polls and an additional year of not responding to mail, these voters are removed from the rolls. 

The Secretary of State’s office uses this 7+1 rule to account for voters who have moved out of state, immigrated to a different country or have died and not yet been removed from the rolls.

Need more evidence that this isn’t voter fraud? Imagine the investigations and media outcry if on Election Day hundreds of thousands of people showed up to the polls only to find out they had wrongly been removed from the voter rolls. What we have instead is Georgia leading the nation in automatic voter registrations.

Caleb Rudin