A voting rights group founded by the Democrat Stacey Abrams filed an emergency motion on Monday, asking a court to halt Georgia’s planned mass purge of voters.
The motion was filed by Fair Fight Action in US district court, hours before the secretary of state’s office planned to begin the purge of inactive voter registrations.
In October, the secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, released a list of more than 313,000 voters whose registrations were at risk of being canceled, about 4% of registered voters in Georgia. Those voters were mailed notices in November and had 30 days to respond in order to keep their registration intact.
Walter Jones, a spokesman for the secretary of state, said the purge was planned for overnight Monday into Tuesday. He said the exact number and names of voters removed would not be known until then and that more information would be made available later.
Voter purges in Georgia became a hot-button issue during last year’s race for governor between Abrams and the Republican Brian Kemp, who won. Kemp was secretary of state and oversaw aggressive voter purges during his tenure. More than 1.4m voter registrations were canceled in Georgia between 2012 and 2018.
While some of the people removed from the rolls had moved or died, others were removed for simply not voting in several election cycles.
“The list of inactive voters is composed of people who did not respond to notices sent to them because they had either filed a change of address form with the US Postal Service, had official election mail returned undeliverable or who have not had contact with the election system for three years,” the secretary of state’s office said in an online description of the removal process.
“Although these people failed to respond to that initial notice, they still remained able to vote normally for two additional election cycles equal to four years, but their registration will be canceled if they fail to respond to the notice mailed to them … or had other contact, such as voting, signing a petition or changing the address on their driver’s license.”
Critics of the policy say government records on inactive voters can be incorrect and argue a citizen should not be removed from the rolls just for deciding not to participate.
Election officials counter that the list maintenance makes the administration of elections smoother and helps guard against voter fraud.