11/05/2019 — Smyrna, Georgia — Voters file into the gymnasium at the Smyrna Community Center to cast their ballots during Election Day in Smyrna, Tuesday, November 5, 2019. (Alyssa Pointer/Atlanta Journal Constitution)
Photo: Alyssa Pointer
Photo: Alyssa Pointer

Georgia incorrectly planned to cancel 293 voter registrations

Election officials planned to cancel the registrations of 293 Georgia voters until news reporters discovered that those voters weren’t eligible for removal from the state’s voter rolls.

APM Reports, an investigative journalism organization of American Public Media, found that those 293 voters had cast ballots on Nov. 6, 2012, recent enough to prevent their cancellation.

Those voters were initially included among 313,243 registrations that Georgia planned to cancel next month. State law allows removal of voters when they haven’t participated in elections for several years, they changed their address with the U.S. Postal Service, or mail from elections officials was returned as undeliverable.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution verified APM Reports’ finding by comparing Georgia’s cancellation list with voting history records from 2012 elections. Only voters who haven’t cast ballots since April 2012 can be removed based on inactivity.

The Georgia secretary of state’s office confirmed that these 293 voters won’t be canceled.

“The reason we posted the list online was to crowdsource this information to allow as many people as possible to review it,” said Walter Jones, a spokesman for Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. “If there is data they think needs to be updated, we encourage people to bring it to our attention so we can review their findings and make adjustments as needed.”

All of the 293 voters erroneously targeted for removal live in Lowndes County near the Florida border. They were initially included on the state’s cancellation list because voter registration records failed to fully incorporate voter history records after the state moved to a new registration system in 2013, according to APM Reports.

Voters on Georgia’s cancellation list can save their registrations if they sign and return a postage-paid letter mailed last week by election officials within 30 days. Voters can check their registration status at www.mvp.sos.ga.gov.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.