A federal judge’s ruling upheold the cancellation of 98,000 Georgia voters’ registration status under the state’s “use it or lose it” law, which allowed the state to remove voters from the rolls if they were classified as inactive.
U.S. District Judge Steve Jones’ ruling Friday blocked an effort by voting rights group Fair Fight Action to restore the voters’ registration status.
In his 32-page order, Jones wrote that the plaintiffs had failed to show that the cancellations violated the U.S. Constitution.
He also wrote that the plaintiffs could still ask the Georgia Supreme Court to interpret the state law that allows election officials to purge voters who haven’t participated in elections for more than eight years.
Jones’ order follows his denial of an emergency motion filed Dec. 16 to stop the state from purging 120,000 voters from Georgia rolls.
Fair Fight Action, founded by Democratic former Georgia gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams, had sued to restore registration status to voters who had been removed from voting rolls after having had no contact with county election officials since January 2012 and who had not responded to mailed notices.
In November, the Georgia Secretary of State announced it would remove 313,243 voters, or 4 percent of its base, from its rolls. Of those removed, 108,306 had moved and filed change of address paperwork with the U.S. Postal Service, and 84,375 had election mail returned as undeliverable.
Of the 120,561 people whose registration status was still in question, 22,000 were returned to the rolls by the secretary of state because those voters had contact with the office between January and June 2012.
Jones wrote the 11th Amendment of the Constitution and the principles of sovereign immunity “do not permit a federal court to enjoin a state (or its officers) to follow a federal court’s interpretation of the State of Georgia’s laws.”
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