ATLANTA — Hours ahead of a federal court hearing, the Georgia Secretary of State’s office reinstated 22,000 voters who were purged.
In a press release, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said the state is reinstating 22,000 previously-canceled voter registrations back to the “inactive” voter list. The voters that are being moved back into inactive status are people who last had contact with the voter registration system between January and May 2012.
“We are proactively taking additional steps to prevent any confusion come the day of the election,” Raffensperger said in a statement. “We are taking the unprecedented step to give certain individuals who have been identified as having moved and in need of updating their information additional time to vote or contact their county elections office to update their registration.”
Nearly 120,000 of of the 308,753 registrations purged on Monday night as part of federal mandated voter roll maintenance, were labeled inactive due to Georgia’s “use it or lose it” provision — which allows voter registrations to be cancelled after a certain period of time of not voting.
Fair Fight Action — a voting rights advocacy organization founded by Stacey Abrams, 2018 gubernatorial candidate — filed the motion in district court asking the federal judge to stop the Secretary of State’s office from purging voters who they claimed did not have a long enough period of inactivity to be booted off the rolls.
U.S. District Judge Steve Jones declined to issue a temporary restraining order on the Secretary of State's plans to purge the thousands of voters after the state said it could easily reinstate voters. Court was set to reconvene on Thursday to further examine the issue.
Just hours before the rescheduled hearing, Raffensperger announced the reinstatement of the 22,000 voters.
Fair Fight Action attributed the last minute decision to their request for emergency intervention from the federal judge.
“Secretary Raffensperger’s 11th-hour admission that he made massive errors in this week’s voter purge should send chills down the spine of every Georgian who cares about voting rights,” the organization said in a release. “The fact that Raffensperger agrees with Fair Fight Action that he failed to follow the law and illegally took away 22,000 Georgians’ right to vote is refreshing, but it’s not enough. Every voter purged this week under ‘use it or lose it’ must be reinstated immediately.”