More than 7,500 voters in Middle Georgia could be removed from voter rolls. Here’s why

Thousands of voters with Middle Georgia addresses could be removed from voter rolls before the end of the year if they don’t vote or update their registration, according to data released by the Georgia Secretary of State’s office and analyzed by The Telegraph.

The Georgia Secretary of State’s office earlier this week released a list of more than 313,000 registered voters that will be removed from rolls if they do not vote or update their registration.

In Houston County, 4,881 voters were listed — the 15th highest total in the state. In Bibb County, 2,651 voters are listed. Bibb’s numbers are lower than other counties with mid-sized cities like Columbus’ Muscogee County (8,859) and Augusta’s Richmond County (5,873). The highest totals in the state are: Fulton (45,525), DeKalb (27,719) Gwinnett (22,156) and Cobb (22,052) counties.

The statewide list, which represents about 4% of Georgia’s voter rolls, is published online on the secretary of state’s website. The office will also mail out a final notice next week to people’s last known address listed on their voter registration, the Secretary of State’s office said in a news release.

“States like Nevada, Minnesota, Colorado, Arizona, Illinois, Maryland and Vermont have similar rates of cancellations due to people moving as Georgia,” said Jordan Fuchs, Georgia’s deputy secretary of state. “The 4 % rate that we are seeing is similar to what states across the country are seeing.”

Of the inactive registration list, about 108,000 filed a change of address request with the U.S. Postal Service showing they moved to a different county or state. Another roughly 84,000 had election mail returned as undeliverable.

The remaining nearly 121,000 have had no contact with their county elections officials since prior to the 2012 presidential election and failed to respond to a confirmation card sent by their county office. Contact is defined as voting, updating your registration, signing a petition or requesting an absentee ballot.

The updates are required by federal and state law to ensure Georgia has the most up-to-date voter information, according to the department.

“Election security is my top priority,” said Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. “Accurate and up-to-date voter rolls are vital to secure elections, but at the same time, I want to ensure that anyone potentially affected by this routine process has notice and opportunity to update their information.”

GPB reports that federal and state law says voter list maintenance must be completed “no later than 90 days prior to … a presidential preference primary.” Georgia’s primary is March 24, 2020, meaning the maintenance of the voter rolls must be completed by Dec. 24.

Voter registration cancellations were a controversial issue in the 2018 Georgia governor’s race between Stacey Abrams and Brian Kemp. Georgia canceled about 534,000 registrations in July 2017, the largest removal of voters in U.S. history, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

In April, Kemp signed into law new provisions to address a variety of voter concerns in the wake of the 2018 election. One of those provisions lengthened the amount of time people who choose not to vote could remain on the rolls.

“Voters should not lose their right to vote simply because they have decided not to express that right in recent elections,” said Lauren Groh-Wargo, the CEO for Fair Fight Action, a group founded by Abrams that is suing the state over voting issues, in an interview with the AJC. “Having a long history of voter suppression, the Georgia secretary of state’s office has a responsibility to guarantee that not a single voter is wrongly included on the purge list.”

If your name is on the list and you’re still an eligible Georgia voter, you can check or update your registration online or by calling your county election office. You could also respond to the notice that will be sent by mail. However, the notice will be sent to the last known address of your voter registration.

Below, you can see if your name is listed on the state’s inactive voter list.

Click here for the list.

Nick Wooten is the Southern Trends and Culture reporter for McClatchy’s South region. He is based in Columbus, Georgia at the Ledger-Enquirer but his work also appears in The (Macon) Telegraph and The Sun Herald in Biloxi.Before joining McClatchy, he worked for The (Shreveport La.) Times covering city government and investigations. He is a graduate of Mercer University in Macon, Georgia.