The state of Georgia has likely removed nearly 200,000 Georgia citizens from the voter rolls for wrongfully concluding that those people had moved and not changed the address on their voter registration, when in fact they never moved, according to a new report released on Wednesday.
The ACLU of Georgia released the report which was conducted by the Palast Investigative Fund, a nonpartisan group that focuses on data journalism, on Wednesday.
For the report, Palast hired expert firms to conduct an Advanced Address List Hygiene, a method of residential address verification, to review 313,243 names that were removed from the state’s voter rolls in late 2019. Their findings claim that 63.3% of voters had not, in fact, moved and were purged in error.
Reacting to the report, Andrea Young, executive director of the ACLU of Georgia, told CNN, “on the one hand, I was deeply saddened and on the other side, not entirely surprised.”
Young described the method the state has used to maintain its voting list as “prone to tremendous error” and not on par with the industry standard for residential address verification.
CNN previously reported the Georgia Secretary of State said the removal of the voters is not a “purge” but part of routine maintenance on voting lists that dates back to the National Voter Registration Act of 1993.
In December 2019, the Georgia Secretary of State said they had removed hundreds of thousands of registered voters it classified as “inactive” from its voting rolls as part of a state provision. Under the provision, the state must remove registration records from the voter rolls that have been deemed “inactive” for more than three years. A voter is categorized as “inactive” if they don’t vote in two general elections and have had no contact with board of elections in that time, according to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office.
Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs responded to the report by saying, “A year ago, Justin Grey, a credible journalist with WSB-TV, conducted a story to see if the people on the list had moved or not. His on the ground reporting showed that those who were on the list to be canceled were no longer at that address. It is unfortunate that the ACLU hired a known Stacey Abrams shill to conduct ‘research,’ especially when there are so many credible options on the left to hire.”
The story Fuchs references is a 2019 report published by CNN affiliate, WSB-TV, that involved one West Atlanta neighborhood. The 30 homes the reporter checked seemed to have been removed because the person moved away or was deceased.
About 313,000 voters were removed from the list, or about 4% of all registered voters in the state, at that time. The “inactive” voters were marked for removal after failing to respond to a pre-addressed, postage paid confirmation card within 30 days; the card asked voters to confirm or update their information. A prior lawsuit over the 313,000 voters from Fair Fight Action ended up forcing the state to restore 22,000 of the voter registrations until December 2021.
“The real takeaway from this is the state of Georgia is using a methodology for maintaining its voter rolls that is both more expensive and less accurate than what industry would use to maintain a high-quality mailing list,” Young said.
The report outlined three ways the state of Georgia verifies a person’s address: a form of the National Change of Address registry of the US Postal Service, returned mail, or failure to vote in two federal election cycles combined with a failure to return a postcard that is used to confirm an address.