Voter Purges May Be Illegal 90 Days Before Election – Republicans Are Trying Anyway

Voter Purges May Be Illegal 90 Days Before Election – Republicans Are Trying Anyway

(Bloomberg) — A series of last-minute challenges to the eligibility of thousands of mostly Democratic voters by Donald Trump’s acolytes threatens to violate federal law and threaten to complicate vote counts in U.S. midterm elections in key states such as the Georgia.

Read more from Bloomberg

Many of those efforts — including one backed by former Trump National Security Adviser Mike Flynn and Overstock.com CEO Patrick Byrne to throw 37,500 voters off the rolls in the Democratic suburb of Atlanta — have evolved within of the 90-day freeze on. voter purges under the National Voter Registration Act 1993.

At the end of August, more than 65,000 voter registrations were challenged in several counties in Georgia, including the most Democratic ones – far more than the 11,000 vote margin that President Joe Biden won there in 2020.

That, along with challenges in Iowa, Michigan, Florida and Texas, prompted New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice and the Campaign Law Center to warn Georgia officials that it would be illegal to cancel any voter registration close to November midterm. Voting rights groups are considering a legal challenge.

Mass voter challenges are allowed in Georgia under a 2021 state law enacted after Trump’s baseless claim that widespread voter fraud led to his defeat. That law allows anyone to challenge an unlimited number of voter eligibility and also allows the state to preside over local election boards that have trouble administering the election or counting the vote.

If voter registration challenges continue in the 53 days remaining before the midterm elections, it could lead to a chaotic Election Day in a state that is key to determining which party controls the United States Senate. Voters could submit ballots only to find that they could not vote or had to cast a provisional ballot that could still be rejected.

Georgia has been at the center of Trump’s efforts to undermine elections since he lost the state in 2020. Governor Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, both Republicans, opposed efforts to overturn Trump’s loss, but supported they by law 2021.

Mike Hassinger, a spokesman for Raffensperger, acknowledged that federal law prohibits a systematic purge of voter registration within 90 days of an election but said that people who are no longer eligible to vote can be removed under the case.

“The challenge review and hearing process can be burdensome for county election officials, especially if there are a large number of challenges,” he said. “However, county election officials must continue to follow Georgia and federal law.”

Aunna Dennis, executive director of Common Cause Georgia, said registered voters will face different results depending on their county.

“Counties are not getting proper guidance from the state on how to deal with these major challenges,” she said.

Gwinnett County, which Biden carried with 58.4% of the vote in 2020, are the biggest challenges from VoterGA, a group supported by Flynn and Byrne. Voter registration challenges also increased in four other large counties, Democratic metro Atlanta, and the Democratic county that includes Savannah and a handful of smaller Republican counties.

“The intent of the project is to remove invalid entries on the voter roll – they are not valid voters,” said Garland Favorito, co-founder of VoterGA.

Under the rules set by the 1993 federal law, local election officials typically purge voter rolls starting in January after an election year to avoid mistakenly canceling valid registrations just before voting begins.

In Georgia, the process can take as long as nine years, because voters are marked inactive only after they have failed to vote in two consecutive elections and do not respond to a postcard sent by election officials, and are not then cancel them unless they are not. responsible for another four years.

Sean Morales-Doyle, acting director of the voting rights program at the Brennan Center, said the mandatory 90-day freeze protects voters’ rights to fix any mistakes before Election Day. He said the VoterGA and other challenges are based on unreliable data. The Brennan Center and the Campaign Law Center warned counties not to remove voters so close to Election Day.

“You can’t get around that defense by having a vigilant citizen decide they’re going to present the evidence and take the challenges,” Morales-Doyle said.

In connection

Despite the warnings, Forsyth County, where Republicans outnumbered Democrats two-to-one, started 95 of 211 challenging voters off the rolls last week.

Officials are bound if they do not respond to the challenges. Under the same 2021 law, the State Board of Elections can launch a performance review of county election offices if state legislators from the area complain that it is not being run well. That process may result in the state board, run by Kemp’s appointee, taking local election office.

Gwinnett County had to assign 10 staff members to sift through eight challenge boxes that arrived at the board of elections on August 29.

In Northwest Georgia’s Chattooga County, election officials refused to consider a request to begin all registered voters.

In Iowa, Joel Miller, the Linn County auditor and the Democratic nominee for Iowa secretary of state, also found challenges. Many of the complaints seem to relate to people who have moved away and would have been removed from the lists since January anyway for being inactive, he said.

“They’re creating a lot of work over nothing, really,” Miller said. “If I spend 10 minutes per challenge, it would take me three days to go through all of these.”

Read more from Bloomberg Businessweek

©2022 Bloomberg LP

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.