Judge Rules Georgia Doesn’t Have to Immediately Restore Purged Voters
ATLANTA — A federal judge on Wednesday declined to force the state to immediately restore hundreds of thousands of people that were removed from the voting rolls last year.
Voting rights organizations, including the Black Voters Matter Fund, sued Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger earlier this month, challenging the removal of what they said were hundreds of thousands of eligible voters from Georgia’s rolls.
U.S. District Judge Steve C. Jones said he would not grant the immediate restoration of voters to the rolls because they have had a year to re-register if they were removed incorrectly and, if the secretary of state’s office did reinstate them, it would cause confusion.
“Plaintiffs acknowledge that they do not know how many people on their list of canceled registrations may have re-registered before December 7, 2020,” Jones wrote in his ruling. “Thus, the risk of dual registrations and voter confusion is high.”
Instead, Jones asked the voting rights organizations to work with the secretary of state to figure out why Georgians were incorrectly removed from the rolls.
Jones said that while attorneys for Black Voters Matter Fund showed Georgia’s process for removing people from the voting rolls may have led to mistakes, the removals were not discriminatory.
Lawyers for the Black Voters Matter Fund argued that the state removed tens of thousands of voters from the list because it believed they had moved out of their county or the state when, in fact, they had not. It also challenges a “use it or lose it” provision in state law that allows Georgia to purge voters who do not cast ballots for many years. That allowed the state to remove tens of thousands more voters, attorneys argued.
They wanted those people who were purged returned to the voter rolls.
Attorneys for the secretary of state’s office said the office followed all federal guidelines in updating voter registration rolls and, if there were issues with people being removed inappropriately, the plaintiffs had a year to bring their case.
In a news release, Raffensperger called the ruling a victory.
“This lawsuit from left-leaning groups — like the recent ones from the right — was based on conjecture by unqualified ‘experts’ drawn from sloppy analysis,” Raffensperger said. “This office abides by the law regardless of criticism and oversees fair and accurate elections open to all eligible voters – but only eligible Georgia voters.”
Gerald Griggs, an attorney for Black Voters Matter Fund, said Jones’ ruling underscores the fact that there are issues with the way the secretary of state removes voters.
“We stand ready to meet with the secretary of state to remedy the problem of improper purges from the voting rolls,” Griggs said. “The judge strongly encourages a meeting to resolve these issues. We await the secretary to set the meeting.”
©2020 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
In The News
Eighteen members of Congress on Wednesday announced the formation of a new Congressional Caucus whose intent is to ensure that the priorities and concerns of cities and counties across America are heard on Capitol Hill. The bipartisan Congressional Caucus of Former Local Elected Officials was formed... Read More
Thirty-five states are at extreme or high risk of partisan gerrymandering, according to an in-depth report by the nonpartisan RepresentUs organization. The Gerrymandering Threat Index rates all 50 states, and its authors argue their findings underscore the urgent need to pass the redistricting reforms within the... Read More
WASHINGTON - A bipartisan bill to extend the Paycheck Protection Program to May 31 is gaining support in the House and the Senate and will likely be voted on before lawmakers head back to their districts at the end of the month. The proposal to extend... Read More
WASHINGTON - It’s hard to believe it’s almost that time of year again, but on Monday came word that the peak bloom for the cherry blossoms ringing the Tidal Basin in Washington is currently expected to occur April 2-5. That means the most vivid of blooms... Read More
LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Josh Venable, a longtime Michigan GOP operative and chief of staff to former U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, can trace the arc of the state's Republican Party clearly."This was the state where to be Republican was defined by Gerald Ford and George... Read More
NEW YORK (AP) — Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. fought for a year and a half to get access to former President Donald Trump's tax records.Now, thanks to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, he will soon have them. But what will that mean for... Read More