With the midterm election bearing down on the U.S. next month, plenty of people have been scrambling to register themselves to vote, either for the first time or after a move. But now as the deadlines for registration in many states has passed, many people are discovering that despite having been registered and having voted before, they are no longer registered.
According to Time, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp has blocked about 53,000 incoming registrations over what his Democratic opponent Stacey Abrams has stated is a process called “exact match.” The biggest concern is that approximately 70 percent of the voters whose registrations are pending are African-Americans, many of whom Abrams says have not been notified that their registration has not been completed.
Another Georgian, Marsha Appling-Nunez, says she was shocked when she tried to show her class of college students how to vote, only to discover she was suddenly no longer registered. When she tried to re-register, she was told her application would go onto the waiting list of those other 53,000 pending registrations.
Kemp, who is in charge of voter registration, has vehemently denied any wrongdoing. His campaign spokesman Ryan Mahoney claims it has “never been easier” to vote in Georgia, and stated that Kemp is only trying to ensure that “only legal citizens cast a ballot.” This hasn’t stopped a number of organizations from bringing lawsuits against him over what they are calling voter roll purges.
The Georgia NAACP plans to sue Kemp to force him to reopen registration to allow the 53,000 voters to re-register ahead of the midterms, according to Politico. Then there are also the nearly 670,000 voters who were purged from the voter roll in 2017, many of whom are still eligible to cast their ballot and will now need to re-register.
And Georgia is not the only state where voters are being purged. Ohio is facing a similar issue, being spurred on by a federal judge who believes the notification of de-registration from the voter roll that is being sent out to citizens is “compliant with federal law.” Per Cleveland Plain Dealer, a 2016 study found that the majority of the people purged from the voters rolls in the state were Democratic-leaning, and organizations have since demanded the system be updated.
Currently, Ohio’s system allows for voter purging if there is a period of inactivity when it comes to the polls, and Senior U.S. District Judge George Smith has ruled that this is in line with the laws of the state. Many have argued that these laws are not in accordance with federal laws.
Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted has called for an end to the legal action taken against the state.
“As multiple federal courts have stated, including in today’s winning decision, Ohio is a national leader in making voting accessible to its residents. Ohio’s process for managing its voter rolls has been upheld by multiple courts — including the U.S. Supreme Court. It’s now time for the plaintiffs to move on and end their attempts to undermine Ohio’s elections.”
In July, it was also found that other states with histories of racial discrimination had also been purging the voter rolls, including Alabama, Virginia, and South Carolina, reported Vox.
While voting purging is of major concern to eligible voters, there have also been whispers of instating other policies that would make it harder for lower-income Americans and minorities to cast their votes as well, with even celebrities speaking out and reminding everyone to check their voter registration status before deadlines in their state hit.
A number of initiatives have been set up to aid people in checking their registration status. Don’t Get Purged is one website that can provide voters with the necessary information, while Overseas Vote Foundation has been set up to help servicemen and women check their status. Greg Palast, an investigative journalist who has been vocal on the practice, has also set up a list for Georgians who might have been affected.
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