Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has announced a purge of voter rolls to remove anyone who has been inactive for two general elections during which time they have had no contact with election officials.
Raffensperger said his office “is making routine and legally required updates to Georgia’s voter file that will reduce the size of the voter roll by 4%.” That’s about 313,243 voters facing removal unless they take action to update their status.
Anticipating opposition from Democrats and other groups, the Republican secretary of state went to great lengths to explain the reasons for the purge. Raffensperger said his top priority is election security and “accurate and up-to-date voter rolls are vital to secure elections.” That should be incontrovertible. The secretary is doing his job as required by state and federal laws.
Raffensperger said he wants to “ensure that anyone potentially affected by this routine process has notice and opportunity to update their information.” Thus, his office is posting online the entire list of those affected “to ensure that people who are still eligible voters can update their information.” The list can be viewed on the secretary of state’s website.
Removing a voter from the rolls takes place only after the state makes a legitimate effort to contact the individual. A pre-addressed, postage-paid card is sent to the voter asking for confirmation or updating of his or her information. Raffensperger points out that the process began under the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, “signed into federal law by then-President Bill Clinton,” and that additional laws “were passed in Georgia regarding list maintenance in 1994 by a Democrat majority General Assembly and signed into law by a Democrat governor.” And, Raffensperger adds, “these laws were implemented by a Democrat Georgia Secretary of State.”
Pursuant to a bipartisan Georgia law enacted this year, an additional notification – following the initial notice – will be mailed to people whose registrations are subject to cancellation, Raffensperger said. This notice will include a postage-paid postcard that the voter can sign and drop into a mailbox. It’s hard to see how the process could be more convenient for those people affected.
In a news release before Raffensperger announced his action, the ACLU of Georgia went on the attack. “The secretary’s office has a history of massive error in canceling registrations,” the group said. “We very concerned and disappointed that the secretary of state persists in canceling the registration of duly registered Georgia citizens,” said ACLU executive director Andrea Young. “It is especially concerning ahead of municipal elections across the state.”
Despite that reaction, credit Raffensperger with dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s in carrying out the update of voter rolls as required by law. That being true, consider that there is only so much his office or local elections officials can do to help inactive voters update their registration. Let us not forget that responsibility to provide accurate, up-to-date registration information and stay on the active rolls resides with the voter, not the government.