SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger was in Savannah earlier this week and answering questions about the state’s new voting system.
We also asked him about the program announced by his office two months ago which promises to clean up voter registration lists. It’s estimated that the records of as many as 315,000 voters will be scrutinized in terms of whether their names match current voter registration records.
Groups like the ACLU of Georgia say it’s voter purging pure and simple.
Raffensperger has a different take. “It’s not voter purging because first of all federal and state law requires you to have your voter rolls up to date,” he told me.
He says his office is trying to update lists for a growing state so “that we can better prepare for who’s going to show up on election day.”
Since presidential elections always bring out more voters, the examination of voter lists is considered crucial. Raffensperger says accurate lists can help provide individual counties with information about how many resources are needed at precincts in terms of equipment and poll workers.
“We want to make sure people are on an active roll and that voters actually live where they say they live,” Raffensperger told me.
Andrea Young from ACLU of Georiga told us in late October that her organization was concerned about the announcement about examining voter lists. “It’s just not fair for people to constantly have to be faced with these kinds of voter cancellations,” she said.
Young says a purge of up to 500,000 voters took place in 2016 and 2017. “The last time we challenged this practice by the Secretary of State (Brian Kemp at that time) there were thousands and thousands of these notices sent in error,” said Young. “And so it’s very important that people check and make sure that mistakes are not being made on their registrations to keep them current and protect their right to vote.”
Raffensperger says recent changes in state law give voters even more time before their names might be eliminated. “During the last session, they passed a bill that allows voters to stay on the list for an additional two years so you’re looking for people who have not contacted the voter office or voted since 2012. In 2020, that will be 8 years.
He says that gives votes more than a fair chance to correct any information errors on voter registration cards.
The ACLU and other organizations have expressed skepticism about the list examination at this point.