Lawsuit over Georgia’s participation in Crosscheck purge program settled

12/16/2020 —  Atlanta, Georgia —  Fulton County elections workers work with voters during early voting at Chastain Park Gymnasium in Atlanta’s Chastain Park neighborhood, Wednesday, December 16, 2020.  (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)
12/16/2020 — Atlanta, Georgia — Fulton County elections workers work with voters during early voting at Chastain Park Gymnasium in Atlanta’s Chastain Park neighborhood, Wednesday, December 16, 2020. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

The Georgia secretary of state’s office paid $30,000 to resolve a lawsuit over the state’s role in Crosscheck, a defunct program for canceling voter registrations.

The settlement ended the lawsuit, but the plaintiffs didn’t get what they had sought: records showing that Gov. Brian Kemp, when he was secretary of state, had used Crosscheck to cancel Georgia voters.

Though Georgia election officials contributed voter information to other states that participated in Crosscheck, they said they never used it on their own voters. They said the cancellations of 534,000 Georgia voter registrations in 2017 and 287,000 registrations in 2019 were done separately from Crosscheck.

The settlement was obtained Friday by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution through the Georgia Open Records Act.

The Crosscheck program, which ended in 2019, collected voter registration lists from Georgia and other states to identify potentially invalid and duplicative registrations. Voting rights groups have criticized Crosscheck for inaccuracies that erroneously flagged legitimate voters.

Greg Palast, a journalist who filed the lawsuit against Kemp, said it verified that Georgia participated in the effort to remove voters in dozens of states. Crosscheck was led by then-Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, and Georgia enrolled in the program from 2013 to 2017.

“They can’t deny they were part of the Crosscheck program,” Palast said. “The Georgia list, we know for 100% certain, was used to purge voters in other states.”

Attorneys for the secretary of state’s office said they submitted voter registration data to Kansas but never targeted Georgia voters.

“In other words, Georgia agreed only to provide information and not to use the information,” according to a court filing by the state.

Georgia election officials canceled registrations if voters changed their addresses, mail was undeliverable or they didn’t vote for several years.

The settlement in September also required Georgia to disclose, if possible, voter registration records provided to the state through the Crosscheck program.

But neither Georgia nor Kansas’ secretary of state’s office still had a copy of the 2016 and 2017 Crosscheck lists sought by the lawsuit. The lists were destroyed in accordance with a memorandum of understanding between the states, Kansas’ elections director wrote in an email to attorneys for the Georgia secretary of state’s office.

A new lawsuit over how Georgia cancels voter registrations is pending.

That lawsuit alleges the state’s cancellation practices are inaccurate, canceling thousands of voters who never moved. But election officials say state law requires removal of lapsed voters after at least eight years under the state’s “use it or lose it” law.

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