A federal judge ruled Monday night that 309,000 names can be purged from Georgia voter rolls, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The cancellations will remove about 120,000 voters who have not cast a ballot since 2012 or earlier. The remainder of those purged either moved out of the state or had mail sent to them by election officials returned as undeliverable, the newspaper reported.
The move will reduce the state’s registered voters from 7.4 million to 7.1 million. Georgia and eight other states have a so-called use it or lose it law, under which registrations are canceled after a certain period of inactivity.
“Georgians should not lose their right to vote simply because they have not expressed that right in recent elections,” said Lauren Groh-Wargo, CEO of Fair Fight Action, a voting rights group founded by former Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams after her 2018 loss to then-Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R).
Abrams has said she founded the group "after witnessing the gross mismanagement of the 2018 election by the Secretary of State's office."
“Georgia’s practice of removing voters who have declined to participate in recent elections violates the United States Constitution,” added Groh-Wargo, whose group filed an emergency motion challenging the removal of the inactive voters.
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) argued the removals were necessary to ensure state voter rolls are accurate.
“Proper list maintenance is not only required by long-standing laws but is also important in maintaining the integrity and smooth functioning of elections,” Raffensperger said, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “Georgia has registered nearly a half-million voters since the last election, clear proof that we are doing things to make it easy for people to vote.”
In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Steve Jones said he still reserved the option to quickly reinstate canceled registrations.
“It appears that any voter registration cancellations can be undone at a later date,” Jones, an Obama appointee, wrote in his order, according to the newspaper. “The court’s ruling is based largely on defense counsel’s statement (at today’s hearing) that any voter registration that is canceled today can be restored within 24 to 48 hours.”
The Peach State removed more than 500,000 registrations in July 2017, the largest single removal in U.S. history.