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Voter list maintenance procedures – especially the relationship between longtime non-voting and removal – will be a subject for the U.S. Supreme Court this fall, but a new ACLU lawsuit in Georgia’s Fulton County (Atlanta) is challenging something much more immediate: the status of voters who move within the County. The Journal-Constitution has more:
The ACLU of Georgia filed a lawsuit Friday against Fulton County over address confirmation notices that went out to thousands of registered voters across the county.
The notice says a voter will be declared “inactive” if they don’t respond within 30 days.
The notices are part of Georgia’s biennial effort to clean up the state’s voter rolls, and overall went out to more than 383,480 voters across the state.
They are generated every other year after the state compares the list of people who submitted a change of address form to the U.S. Postal Service with the state’s overall list of registered voters.
Fulton County officials have said they did nothing wrong by sending the notices, which are supplied by the state but mailed by local counties.
Plaintiffs in the case have no complaint with the list maintenance process generally, but argue that its impact on local in-county movers is unfair given that only their address, not their home jurisdiction, has changed:
The ACLU has taken no issue [with] the mailer going to people who have moved outside their county, either to somewhere else in Georgia or to another state.
But it says voters who move within the same county should not face the possibility of being declared “inactive” because state law doesn’t mandate such an action for that particular group of voters. The ACLU said it believes it also goes beyond what’s federally allowed.
The suit was filed in Fulton County Superior Court on behalf of Stacey Hopkins, a Fulton voter who moved within the county and received the notice.
It asks a judge to make the county automatically update the addresses of voters such as Hopkins as well as send out a different notice allowing voters who moved “intra-county” to verify or correct their current address without any consequences if they do not respond.
Suits like this – and the overall heightened attention to voter rolls stemming from the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity – are likely to intensify discussion about (if not outright interest in) cooperative efforts like the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) which help election offices keep track of voters as they move. I’ll be curious to see if the ACLU or other plaintiffs in suits cite ERIC as the kind of remedy that could be available in cases such as these.
It’s a fascinating sub-plot of the overall focus on voter mobility: when (if ever) is a move so short that it shouldn’t be considered a move under applicable law? I’ll be curious to see if the court in this case has anything interesting to say about that … stay tuned!