The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia sued the Fulton County Board of Registration and Elections today on behalf of Stacey Hopkins, a registered voter and Atlanta resident who was sent an illegal purge notice from election authorities after she moved within the same county. Even though Hopkins filed a change-of-address form with the U.S. Postal Service (USPS), she received a threatening notice that she would be deemed “inactive” if she did not take steps to maintain her registration.
Under state law, registered voters who inform USPS that they have moved within the same county must have their voter registration information automatically updated without requiring further action on the voter’s part. The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 also prohibits these kinds of purge notices to voters who move within the same county.
“This is a textbook case of modern-day voter suppression and it needs to stop,” said Andrea Young, ACLU of Georgia executive director. “Instead of simply updating Stacey’s address as the law requires, Georgia officials sent her a threatening notice saying her voter registration was at risk. This bureaucratic red tape falls hardest on low-income families and people of color, making it harder for them to vote just months before important municipal elections. Georgia officials need to stop playing politics with people’s voting rights.”
The ACLU of Georgia’s lawsuit asks the Fulton County Superior Court to compel voting authorities to update Hopkins’ address and the addresses of all other voters who moved within the county as soon as possible well in advance of this year’s elections. Media reports indicate that similar notices were sent out to hundreds of thousands of voters across the state.
“The right to vote is fundamental, but Georgia has built an obstacle course of bureaucratic requirements that make it harder for people to get to the polls,” said Sean J. Young, ACLU of Georgia legal director. “Even more troubling, the Secretary of State has argued that these illegal purge notices were routine, which suggests they’ve been violating the law and the voting rights of countless voters for years. Georgia officials need to start following the law and stop making it harder to vote.”