Georgia to begin removing tens of thousands of people from state voter rolls as required by law

ATLANTA — Georgia is beginning the process of removing tens of thousands of people from the voter rolls.

It is required by a Georgia law that dates back to the 1990s. But it is controversial, and critics call it a purge of voters.

Channel 2 investigative reporter Justin Gray has learned that letters to people who could have their voter registration ended will go in the mail later this month.

Georgia is required to give notice to anyone on the removal list and provide that voter 30 days to confirm their registration status and stay on the rolls.

The state also plans to publish every name on its website.

Georgia election director Chris Harvey said that’s why every two years Georgia does list maintenance on its voter rolls. It’s state law.

“Elections are about accuracy and integrity,” Harvey said.

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In 2017, Georgia removed more than 500,000 people from the voter rolls. Two years ago, 289,000 people lost their voter registrations.

But the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office expects that number to be much smaller this year, around 100,000.

The Secretary of State’s Office said that is because of the record setting turnout to vote in the 2020 elections -- more than 5 million Georgians voted, which automatically keeps their registration active.

“The tremendous turnout and participating we’ve had in Georgia is keeping that number low. We think It’s going to be less than half what it was two years ago,” Harvey said.

To be on the removal list, a Georgian would have to be an inactive voter for nine years.

“You mean to tell me that if I fail to use a fundamental right, I lose it? No,” said Francys Johnson, chairman of the voting rights group New Georgia Project. “We just simply have no confidence that this government is doing what it says it is.”

For the first time this year, Georgia has joined 30 other states to be part of the nonpartisan Electronic Registration Information Center, or ERIC, that provides regular voter information across state lines.

The state intends to update monthly.

“People move all the time. They don’t think to update their registration. People die every day. Nobody in the family thinks to cancel their registration, and ERIC is here to help with that,” said Shane Hamlin with the Electronic Registration Information Center.

Anyone on the list for removal will receive a letter in the mail and will have 30 days to respond.

“We want people to know this is going on, and if they have an issue and find themselves on the list, contact your county election office and say something is wrong here,” Harvey said.

Georgia election officials say they intentionally do this nowhere near an election so if there is a mistake or confusion, there’s plenty of time to fix it.

Expect those letters to start going out in the next couple weeks.