The Georgia Secretary of State recently announced that it will begin notifying approximately 330,000 “inactive voters” – prior to canceling their registrations. The Georgia NAACP and other groups have said they oppose the effort, charging that purging the lists for inactivity is unethical.

534,000 Georgians were purged from the voter registration lists in 2017—the largest removal in U.S. history— and a disproportionate amount of those were people of color.

“While we appreciate that these Georgia voters will be notified and have a chance to respond prior to being removed, which is now mandatory under new state law, the Georgia NAACP stands in opposition to voter registration purges where voters who should not be removed are often included,” the organization said in a statement. “The right to vote is the most fundamental of those rights as American citizens.”

Starting next week, election officials will mail a notice to the last known address of people who have been in “inactive” status for more than three years and had no contact with election officials during that time. A registration is moved to “inactive” status when the person fails to respond to a pre-addressed, postage-paid confirmation card asking them to confirm or update their information.

The confirmation card is required to be sent to people who have filed a National Change of Address Card with the U.S. Postal Service indicating that they have moved to a new address, had election mail returned as undeliverable, or did not have any contact with election officials (including not voting) for the three prior years.

“Election security is my top priority,” said Secretary Brad Raffensperger. “Accurate and up-to-date voter rolls are vital to secure elections, but at the same time, I want to ensure that anyone potentially affected by this routine process has notice and opportunity to update their information. That is why my office is releasing the full list to ensure that people who are still eligible voters can update their information.”

Both federal and state law requires election officials to conduct list maintenance on registration records where the person has died or moved to a different address, according to the Secretary of State’s office Georgia law specifically requires elections officials to remove registration records that have been in “inactive” status for two general elections and have had no contact with election officials during that time.

The Rev. James Woodall, state president of the Georgia NAACP, said the Georgia NAACP is prepared to fight every instance of voter suppression in every community in the state of Georgia. He also stressed the importance of having adequate representation at the county Board of Election’s meetings on a consistent basis.

“People being removed for simply not voting is unethical and undemocratic,” Woodall said. “We should be investing in ways to make voting easier, not harder. We pledge to utilize our resources to not only ensure that no voter is unlawfully purged but also commit to challenging the legal framework of the practice altogether.”

Concerned citizens can call the Election Protection hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE and/or check the Secretary of State’s MyVoterPage at http://mvp.sos.ga.gov to verify their registration status.

(Photo: Kristopher Radder/AP)

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