Georgia Democrats Seek Repeal of 'Undemocratic' Voter Purge Law Passed by Georgia Democrats

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November 20, 2018

Georgia House Democrats are proposing a repeal of what they're calling an "undemocratic" law passed by the state's Democrats in the 1990s allowing the secretary of state to purge inactive voters from the rolls.

Democratic House Minority Leader Bob Trammell brought the repeal legislation forward on Friday, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

"With today’s technology, there’s no excuse that justifies making voting harder rather than simpler," he said. "The process of purging people from the voter registration rolls solely because they haven't voted in recent elections is undemocratic and corrosive to the integrity of our elections process."

Known as the "Use It or Lose It" law, the bill was passed by a Democratic legislature and signed into law by Georgia Gov. Zell Miller (D.) in 1997. During this year's contentious gubernatorial race between Republican secretary of state Brian Kemp and Democratic state senator Stacey Abrams, Abrams and progressives fumed over the cancellation of nearly 1.5 million voter registrations in Georgia since 2012, accusing Kemp of systematic voter suppression.

Kemp said he was implementing the law, which he supports. His defenders noted Georgia’s voter rolls increased more than 20 percent since 2010 and there was a surge in voter turnout in 2018, where Kemp defeated Abrams by less than two points in one of the closest gubernatorial races in state history.

The Journal-Constitution noted that canceling a registration takes at least six years:

In Georgia, registered voters who fail to vote for three years and then don’t respond to a letter from the state are moved to "inactive status." Inactive voters can still participate in elections. Voters who remain inactive for two federal election cycles without voting or having any other contact with election officials are removed from voter rolls.

Kemp campaign spokesman Ryan Mahoney linked to the Journal-Constitution's article about the proposed bill and poked fun at Democrats calling a bill passed by their own party "undemocratic."

The Supreme Court upheld practices like Georgia's in Ohio in June, ruling that Ohio was complying with the 1993 National Voter Registration Act. That was a 5-4 decision that split the high court's conservative and liberal wings.

Abrams acknowledged defeat last week in her race against Kemp, but she did not give a normal concession speech, eviscerating him as an architect of voter suppression. She has refused to call his victory legitimate, but Kemp has chosen not to return fire.

"It’s time to move beyond the divisive politics of the past and work towards a brighter, more prosperous future here in Georgia," he told the Washington Free Beacon. "What Ms. Abrams does from here on out is her business. The people elected me to serve as their 83rd Governor and I’m focused on advancing policies that put hardworking Georgians first."