A higher number of registrations were canceled in prior years.
In 2017, over 534,000 were eliminated from Georgia’s voter rolls in the largest removal of registrations in U.S. history, in part because of a backlog of outdated voter records at the time. Two years ago, election officials canceled 287,000 registrations.
This year’s effort was smaller than in previous years in part because just 271 registrations were canceled under Georgia’s “use it or lose it” law, which allows election officials to remove people who didn’t participate in elections for several years or respond to mailed notification letters.
Voters are declared “inactive” after five years of failing to participate in elections, contact election officials, respond to election officials’ mail or update their registrations. Then their registrations are voided if they miss the next two general elections.
But voters weren’t changed to “inactive” status in 2017 because of a lawsuit over registration cancellations at the time, effectively giving them two more years before they can be removed.
That means the next round of mass cancellations in 2023 could be much larger than this year’s. About 233,000 voters were changed to “inactive” status in 2019 and will be eligible for cancellation if they don’t participate in elections.
A federal judge recently upheld Georgia’s “use it or lose it” law, finding that canceled voters aren’t significantly burdened because they can re-register to vote.
Most of this year’s cancellations targeted voters who filed a change-of-address form with the U.S. Postal Service or had election mail returned to sender.
There were also 1,098 voter registrations canceled for other reasons, most often because election officials received information that they recently died.
Georgia voters can verify and update their registration information online at www.mvp.sos.ga.gov.
Reasons for 2021 registration cancellations
66,323: Filed a change-of-address request with the U.S. Postal Service
33,525: Election mail was returned as undeliverable
1,098: Voters died or had a different reason for removal
271: Haven’t voted since 2012
Source: Georgia secretary of state’s office