Georgia’s assault on democracy isn’t over by a long shot.
After the Republican-led state legislature earlier this year forced through new laws severely restricting the ability to cast a ballot — laws that disproportionately affect Black voters, in particular — the man who oversees elections in Georgia is now threatening to purge more than 100,000 registered voters from the rolls just weeks ahead of special runoff elections to fill a vacant State House seat.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Friday made the names public of about 102,000 registered voters who he said have moved or haven’t voted in recent elections, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Both factors are reasons to remove their names from the voting rolls, Raffensperger threatened.
Those 102,000 voters will be notified by the state. If they respond within 40 days, their right to vote in the July 13 election will be reinstated. If not, their names will be purged. Strangely enough, there are just 22 days remaining until the election next month.
But never mind those details…
Raffensperger boasted in a statement that he’s previously purged far more voters from the rolls than just 102,000 and said he would have no problem doing the same again. He even had the audacity to reference voting rights champion Stacey Abrams in a brief statement about his decision to take action against Georgia’s voter rolls.
“Making sure Georgia’s voter rolls are up to date is key to ensuring the integrity of our elections. That is why I fought and beat Stacey Abrams in court in 2019 to remove nearly 300,000 obsolete voter files before the November election, and will do so again this year,” said Raffensperger, who was Gov. Brian Kemp‘s running mate in 2018 when the Republican ticket shamelessly exercised racist voter suppression tactics to secure their victory. “Bottom line, there is no legitimate reason to keep ineligible voters on the rolls.”
Raffensperger was referring to the lead-up to the 2020 election when a judge ruled that more than 300,000 voters from the rolls in what seemed like a partisan effort to affect last year’s election. To Republicans’ dismay, of course, Abrams’ hard work to register voters paid off for Democrats, flipping the traditionally red state blue and securing the crucial Electoral College votes that Joe Biden needed to win his presidency.
Likely using that recent truth as motivation this time around, Raffensperger’s threat was also a nod to the year before the aforementioned 2018 midterm election. That was when then-Georgia Secretary of State Kemp removed about 107,000 people for the same reasons that Raffensperger is citing in this current instance. Kemp did the same thing with about half as many voters around one month before his election against Abrams — an election that was decided by just 55,000 votes. Critics claimed Kemp purged more than 340,000 voters from the state’s registration rolls during his time as Secretary of State.
At the time, Lauren Groh-Wargo, CEO Abrams’ Fair Fight Action organization, said the practice is illegal. Her opinion hasn’t changed more than two years later.
“The last time Secretary Raffensperger conducted a massive voter purge, he was forced to admit 22,000 errors — 22,000 Georgia voters who would have been kicked off the rolls were it not for Fair Fight Action’s diligence,” Groh-Wargo said last week. “We’ll be reviewing the list thoroughly and reaching out to impacted voters.”
Still, it appears that Georgia Republicans are unmoved in their apparent dedication to suppressing people’s ability to cast a ballot in a free and fair election.
This past December, a lawsuit accused Raffensperger of violating the National Voter Registration Act by removing around 198,000 citizens who moved from previous addresses listed on their voter registration. That purge strategically took place after the 2020 election and weeks before Georgia’s pair of runoff U.S. Senate elections in January.
Next month’s special runoff elections in Georgia will be to fill two State House seats that have traditionally been held by Republicans in Cobb County and South Georgia, respectively.
“House District 34 in Cobb County is considered an early test for suburban Atlanta Republicans after the state supported Joe Biden for president in November and Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in January for the U.S. Senate, all Democrats,” the Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported.
The runoff special elections are scheduled to take place on July 13.