Georgia County Agrees to Voter Purge Reforms to End NAACP Suit


One of Georgia’s most-populous counties agreed to create new policies for handling challenges to individual voters based on their residency, resolving a lawsuit claiming the current practice puts thousands of people with unstable housing at risk of being disenfranchised.

DeKalb County also agreed to reinstate dozens of eligible voters who were purged from the voter rolls before the suit was filed in February 2020, lawyers for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda said in a statement Wednesday.

The accord highlights the battle being fought over every vote in the swing state, which helped propel President Joe Biden to victory and give Democrats control of the Senate. A restrictive voter law passed by the state’s GOP-controlled legislature after the election is being challenged by numerous groups as well as the Justice Department.

The deal “is a critical step to protecting DeKalb County voters from illegal purges during upcoming municipal elections and the 2022 election cycle,” Jon Greenbaum, chief counsel of the the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which represented the groups along with the American Civil Liberties Union, said in a statement.

The February 2020 suit, filed in federal court in Atlanta, alleges county election officials violated federal law by carrying out “extraordinary” and unwarranted purges, sometimes targeting people living in transitional housing or those experiencing homelessness, without obtaining written confirmation or giving voters adequate notice.

Irene Vander Els, a lawyer for DeKalb County election officials, didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment. The county, a Democratic stronghold in the state, went strongly for Biden in the last election.

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