Rights Group Asks Judge to Stop Georgia Voter Purge

People cast their ballots in Marietta, Ga., on Oct. 27, 2018. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart, File)

ATLANTA (CN) – With Georgia set to begin purging over 120,000 people from voter rolls Monday, former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams’ voting rights group filed an emergency motion to stop it.

Fair Fight Action Inc., which was launched by the Democratic former state lawmaker last year, filed a motion for a restraining order and injunction Monday in Atlanta federal court in its case against Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and other Georgia officials.

Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams addresses supporters during an election night watch party in Atlanta on Nov. 6, 2018. (AP Photo/John Amis)

The voting rights group is seeking to prevent the Peach State from conducting an imminent mass purge of voters from the rolls, which advocates say is illegal.

Raffensperger sent notices to more than 300,000 voters in November, giving them 30 days to take action before being wiped from the registration system due to inactivity at the polls in recent elections or outdated personal information.

The group says about 120,561 Georgia voters are being removed solely because they have chosen not to vote in recent elections, which it stresses is a right and not an obligation.

“Georgians should not lose their right to vote simply because they have not expressed that right in recent elections, and Georgia’s practice of removing voters who have declined to participate in recent elections violates the United States Constitution,” Fair Fight Action CEO Lauren Groh-Wargo said in a statement Monday.

The group claims that Raffensperger in February applauded the passage of House Bill 316, a $150 million measure that significantly changes how Georgia residents will vote in the coming years by replacing 17-year-old electronic voting machines with new touchscreen machines that print paper ballots.

The bill also stipulates a longer timetable before voters can be removed from rolls for inactivity, a policy called “use it or lose it.”

Groh-Wargo says Raffensperger “is now attempting to violate that very law.”

“As our groundbreaking lawsuit against the secretary of state moves forward, we have asked the court to step in and stop this illegal purge,” she said.

Fair Fight Action asked the court to hear its emergency motion Monday in light of the imminent voter purge.

The group’s underlying lawsuit was filed in November 2018, days after Abrams conceded defeat in a fierce gubernatorial race against Republican nominee and former Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp. The wide-reaching complaint seeks numerous changes to Georgia’s election system and laws.

Throughout the campaign, Abrams referred to Kemp as an “architect of voter suppression” and protested the fairness of the election, which Kemp presided over as secretary of state. Kemp did not resign his position until after Election Day.

Kemp, who defeated Abrams by a margin of about 55,000 votes out of over 3.9 million, said at the time that he was not concerned with “ridiculous lawsuits” over Georgia’s election system.

Monday’s motion was signed by attorney Leslie Bryan with Lawrence & Bundy in Atlanta.

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