Stacey Abrams Issues Emergency Request To Stop Voter Purging In Georgia
A hearing on the topic has been scheduled for federal court.
December 16, 2019 at 8:22 pm
A federal court is scheduled to hold a hearing in regards to a planned mass purge of its voting polls, following an emergency request from a voting rights group founded by Democrat Stacey Abrams on Monday.
According to a report by the Associated Press, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger released a list of over 313,000 voters whose registrations were at risk of being canceled in October — which accounts for about four percent of the state’s total registered voters.
The request cites changes to Georgia election law under House Bill 316 and describes the severe burden to the First Amendment right to vote caused by “use it or lose it” purges, and asks United States District Court Judge Steve C. Jones to stop the elimination of voters planned for this week.
“Georgians should not lose their right to vote simply because they have not expressed that right in recent elections, and Georgia’s practice of removing voters who have declined to participate in recent elections violates the United States Constitution,” said Fair Fight Action CEO Lauren Groh-Wargo in a statement.
The group plans to present declarations from Georgians who have exercised their First Amendment right to not cast a ballot in recent elections, but whose right to vote should not be taken away. They also will be presenting sworn testimony from the state’s own witnesses that they believe will demonstrate the illegality of the purge, according to the group's website.
State officials, however, argued the purge is a process necessary to ease the process around running elections as well as prevent voter fraud.
"Accurate voter lists limit confusion and delays at polling places on election day, and make sure voters get the correct ballot,” said Chris Harvey, elections director for the secretary of state’s office, according to Associated Press. “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.”
Georgia voter purges have been a contentious topic over the past two years, with 1.4 million voter registrations being canceled in Georgia between 2012 and 2018 cited as a reason for Stacey Abrams's narrow loss to Gov. Brian Kemp in the 2018 election.