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Federal Judge Allows Georgia to Remove 309k Voter Registrations

A voter casts his ballot behind a ballot booth. (Keith Bedford/Reuters)

A federal judge on Monday allowed Georgia to remove about 309,000 voters from the state rolls for inactivity or because they’ve left the state.

Georgia’s list of registered voters is projected to drop from 7.4 million to 7.1 million on Tuesday as the state eliminates voters, including about 120,000 people who have not voted since 2012. The other voters removed from Georgia’s voter rolls either no longer live in the state or mail from election officials to them was marked undeliverable.

However, U.S. District Judge Steve Jones assured in his order that canceled voter registrations can be quickly restored.

“The court’s ruling is based largely on defense counsel’s statement (at today’s hearing) that any voter registration that is canceled today can be restored within 24 to 48 hours,” Jones wrote.

An emergency motion to stop the voter purge was filed Tuesday by Fair Fight Action, a voting rights advocacy group founded by failed Democratic gubernatorial Stacey Abrams, who blamed her loss on voter suppression.

“Georgians should not lose their right to vote simply because they have not expressed that right in recent elections,” said the group’s CEO, Lauren Groh-Wargo. “Georgia’s practice of removing voters who have declined to participate in recent elections violates the United States Constitution.”

Georgia’s voter registration laws are some of the more stringent in the country, known as “use it or lose it.” Governor Brian Kemp, Georgia’s secretary of state during the 2018 midterms when he was running against Abrams for governor, also enforced one of the strictest voter ID laws in the country during the governor’s race.

In 2017, Georgia struck 534,119 voter registrations from its voter rolls, the largest purge of voters in the country’s history.

Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger objected to accusations that Georgia is making voters fight a swath of red tape simply to exercise their right to vote.

“Proper list maintenance is not only required by long-standing laws but is also important in maintaining the integrity and smooth functioning of elections,” Raffensperger said. “Georgia has registered nearly a half-million voters since the last election, clear proof that we are doing things to make it easy for people to vote.”

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