It then creates a list of voters in each county of those who haven’t updated their registration record to reflect a new address. It also pre-prints mailers. Each county then pays for postage and sends those mailers to people on the list asking them to confirm their address or where they live now.
Voters who receive them are told they have 30 days to respond, either to confirm their address or to indicate their new one, and risk being moved to the state’s “inactive” registration list if they don’t. “Inactive” voters in Georgia are still legally registered to vote, have full access to the ballot and can vote as usual — and once “inactive” voters cast a ballot or make contact with local officials, they are moved back into “active” status.
The mailer is often a way to confirm whether people have moved outside their county, either to somewhere else in Georgia or to another state.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, however, sued Fulton County on behalf of one affected voter and threatened legal action against other counties and the state over the notices also being sent to residents who had moved within the same county they are already registered in.
Those voters, it said, should not face the possibility of being declared “inactive” because state law does not mandate such an action for that particular group of voters. The ACLU said it also goes beyond what’s federally allowed.
Instead, it said counties should have automatically updated the addresses of those voters and, if it wanted to verify the change, sent out a different notice allowing voters who moved “intra-county” to review the information without any consequences if they did not respond.
On Friday, Sean Young, the state ACLU’s legal director, cautiously acknowledged the state’s policy change but said he was waiting for more information from the Secretary of State’s Office, including “any written details about how they plan to undo their damage to Georgia’s electoral integrity.”
“What they appear to have proposed is merely the first step toward compliance,” Young said.
The overall deadline to respond to the notices that went out this year was Aug. 8. State officials said Friday, however, that all 159,930 voters who moved within their same county and received the notice will remain in active status whether or not they returned the confirmation card.
They also said that from now on, the state’s effort will distinguish between voters who move to a different county and voters who move within the same county.
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