Lawsuit alleges 200K Georgia voters were wrongly purged from registration list

A lawsuit filed on Wednesday alleges that almost 200,000 Georgia voters were wrongly removed from the voter registration list ahead of the election.

Three voter advocacy groups sued Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) for the “wrongful cancellation” of 199,908 voter registrations after falsely assuming they had moved and changed their addresses. The groups call for the voters to have their registration restored ahead of the state’s Jan. 5 runoff races, which will determine which party controls the U.S. Senate. 

The lawsuit, filed in the Northern District of Georgia Atlanta Division, was obtained by The New York Times. 

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The plaintiffs, which included the Black Voters Matter Fund, the Transformative Justice Coalition and the Rainbow Push Coalition, based their lawsuit on the Georgia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union’s (ACLU) report. 

The ACLU release from September cited an independent journalist and said Georgia purged about 300,000 people from the voter registration list last year. The ACLU in Georgia said at the time that the removed voters were likely to be “young voters, voters of lower income, and citizens of racial groups that have been denied their sacred right to vote in the past.”

Since then, the lawsuit alleges that almost 200,000 are still affected, after acknowledging some people have since moved or died. 

The lawsuit specifically calls out the secretary of state’s office for not using the U.S. Postal Service’s national change of address registry to see if the voter filed for a change of address, causing 68,930 voters to allegedly be wrongfully purged.

The voting groups also challenge Georgia’s “use it or lose it law,” which allows the office to assume people have moved if they don’t contact any election official for three years, don’t return a confirmation postcard and don’t vote in the next two federal elections. The lawsuit said 79,193 of those removed from the list under this law in 2019 still receive mail at their original address. 

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The complaint alleges another 51,785 of voters were wrongfully taken off restriction lists after their mail returned, and they did not respond to a confirmation notice within 30 days. 

The secretary of state’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but Gabriel Sterling, Georgia’s voting system implementation manager, dismissed the lawsuit during a press conference Wednesday morning.

“I’m going to go with no,” Sterling said when asked if his office removed almost 200,000 voters. “Frankly, I’ve not seen or heard of this lawsuit yet."

The voter suppression allegations come as Raffensperger and his office are dealing with President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump defends indicted GOP congressman House to vote Thursday on holding Bannon in contempt Youngkin calls for investigation into Loudoun County School Board amid sexual assault allegations MORE’s unfounded claims of voter fraud in the 2020 election, which the president said led to President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenWhite House: Window for finalizing sweeping budget package 'closing' Jayapal says tuition-free community college 'probably won't' be in spending plan Jan. 6 panel votes to hold Bannon in contempt MORE’s victory in the state. 

All eyes are also on Georgia for the upcoming runoff races, in which Sen. Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerDraft Georgia congressional lines target McBath, shore up Bourdeaux Warnock picks up major abortion rights group's endorsement in reelection bid Trump endorses Hershel Walker for Georgia Senate seat MORE (R-Ga.) will face Democratic candidate the Rev. Raphael Warnock and Sen. David PerdueDavid PerdueDraft Georgia congressional lines target McBath, shore up Bourdeaux Trump stokes GOP tensions in Georgia GOP sees Biden crises as boon for midterm recruitment MORE (R-Ga.) will go against Democrat Jon Ossoff.

The races will determine which party has control of the U.S. Senate.