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Organizations sue Georgia secretary of state over purged voter rolls

Georgia received a top credit rating to make purchases including new voting equipment File/Credit: Jessica McGowan, Getty Images, via fortune.com

By Raisa Habersham

National grassroots organization Black Voters Matter filed a federal lawsuit against Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger alleging he violated the National Voter Registration Act when he removed 198,000 citizens from the voter rolls by claiming they moved from their listed addresses on their voter registration.

Two other organizations, Transformative Justice Coalition and Rainbow PUSH, are also a part of the lawsuit according to a press release regarding the matter. All three parties are represented by Atlanta-based attorney Gerald Griggs. Tuesday’s lawsuit also comes a week before Georgia voters decide two key U.S. Senate races, which will determine if Republicans retain control of the Senate.

“What we are calling for is an immediate restoration of those 198,000 voters who are wrongly taken from the voting rolls,” Black Voters Matter co-founder LaTosha Brown said during a press conference Tuesday. “I’m hoping that this lawsuit, not only will lead to restoration but will also point to a larger issue that is not rooted in voter fraud,  but in fact, that the biggest threat to democracy in this country right now is voter suppression.”

The lawsuit stems from a report from The Palast Investigation Fund that revealed voters had been removed from the Georgia voter rolls for address changes when, in fact, they never moved.

The National Voter Registration Act and Georgia law require the state to use a U.S. Postal Service licensee to determine if a resident has moved from their residence listed on their voter registration. The lawsuit alleges Raffensperger failed to secure a USPS licensee and instead used an unlicensed change-of-address list provided by Total Data Technologies of Nebraska.

The lawsuit was announced Wednesday, a day after Georgia’s voting system implementation manager Gabriel Sterling made an impassioned plea for the Republican Party and lame-duck President Donald Trump to condemn death threats against election workers as Georgia recounted votes a third time in the presidential election. 

“Mr. President, you have not condemned these actions or this language. Senators, you have not condemned this language or these actions. This has to stop. We need you to step up and if you’re going to take a position of leadership, show something,” Sterling said in an impassioned speech. 

Sterling said Raffensperger and his wife have also received death threats at their home. 

“Mr. President, it looks like you likely lost the state of Georgia. We’re investigating. There’s always a possibility. I get it, and you have the rights to go through the courts,” Sterling said. “What you don’t have the ability to do, and you need to step up and say this, is stop inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence. Someone’s going to get hurt. Someone’s going to get shot. Someone’s going to get killed. And it’s not right. It’s not right.”

For weeks, Raffensperger and Sterling have pushed back against the Republican Party’s unfounded voter suppression claims and insisted that the process was fair and efficient. At the same time, the Secretary of State’s Office has vowed to investigate voting groups who are registering voters in the state. 

Wednesday’s lawsuit from Black Voters Matter seeks a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to stop the Raffensperger from prohibiting residents purged from the rolls from voting in the upcoming January election.

 

 

 

 

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