ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia's secretary of state is making public a list of nearly 102,000 voters who will be removed from the rolls unless they act to preserve their registration.
Republican Brad Raffensperger announced the list Friday, part of an every-other-year bid to remove voters who may have died or moved away. The state has about 7.8 million voters and his office said the removals include about 67,000 voters who submitted a change of address form to the U.S. Postal Service, and about 34,000 voters who had election mail returned.
Voter purges in Georgia became a hot-button issue during the 2018 governor's race between Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp. Secretary of state before being elected governor, Kemp oversaw aggressive voter purges during his tenure. More than 1.4 million voter registrations were cancelled in Georgia between 2012 and 2018.
In the current purge, election officials said, cancellation notices will be mailed and those who respond within 40 days will have their registration switched back to active. Anyone who is removed could register again.
On a monthly basis, the secretary of state been removing voters who were convicted of felonies or who died.
Raffensperger said more than 18,000 voters were removed last month after Georgia concluded they had died based on information from Georgia's own death registry or from the Electronic Registration Information Center, a partnership among 30 states and the District of Columbia. Officials said they have no record that any of those 18,000-plus cast ballots in the November 2020 general election or the January runoff.
The removals are much smaller than the more than 300,000 voters that Raffensperger sought to remove from Georgia's registration lists in 2019. That year, Fair Fight Action, a voting rights group founded by Abrams, sued to stop a portion of the removals.
During the lawsuit, Raffensperger agreed to keep 22,000 voters on the rolls after finding it was moving too soon to cancel their registrations. A federal judge, though ruled against Fair Fight Action's argument that Georgia should have to keep another 98,000 voters registered.
In 2019, Georgia purged 287,000 voters, while nearly 5,000 either voted or got in touch to keep their registration from being cancelled.
Georgia law says voters should be moved to inactive status if they have no contact with the state for a period of time. The General Assembly voted in 2019 to lengthen the no-contact period to five years. Inactive registrations are later removed if voters miss the next two general elections, giving them a total of nine years.
Only 276 voters will be removed under those "use it or lose it" provisions this year.
"Making sure Georgia's voter rolls are up to date is key to ensuring the integrity of our elections," Raffensperger said in a statement Friday. "That is why I fought and beat Stacey Abrams in court in 2019 to remove nearly 300,000 obsolete voter files before the November election, and will do so again this year. Bottom line, there is no legitimate reason to keep ineligible voters on the rolls."