Georgia is one of a handful of states that removes people from the voter rolls for not turning out to vote in recent elections. Democrats and voting rights advocates have argued that just because someone chooses not to exercise their right to vote doesn’t mean they should be removed from the registration list. On the campaign trail, Kemp maintained that, in weeding out infrequent voters, he was safeguarding the election from fraud. Georgia officials have also argued that most of the people purged in 2017 had likely moved away or died.
But an APM Reports investigation has found that — contrary to those claims from state officials — 70,000 purged Georgians re-registered to vote. In a first-of-its-kind investigation, APM Reports used provisional ballots, registration and purge lists to piece together what happened to the Georgians who’d been scrubbed from the rolls. A majority — 65 percent — of those purged under “use it or lose it” who re-registered did so in the same county, meaning they would otherwise have been eligible to vote if not for the state’s aggressive purge policy.
The APM Reports investigation, the first to show significant impact from the “use it or lose it” policy, undermines the theory that it’s safe to assume that people who sit out multiple elections, or don’t make other contact with election officials, have likely moved or died. In Baiye’s case, nothing in his voter profile needed to be updated when he re-registered on Election Day, weeks after the state’s registration deadline. He still lives in the same house.