Federal judge denies bid to restore 98,000 voters in U.S. state of Georgia
By Kanishka Singh
(Reuters) - A federal judge on Friday denied an attempt to restore about 98,000 voters in Georgia to the U.S. state's electoral rolls after they were removed earlier this month upon being classified as "inactive".
Lead plaintiff Fair Fight Action, a voting rights nonprofit, did not establish that the Georgia secretary of state's decision to cancel the voter registrations had violated the constitution, U.S. District Judge Steve Jones said in the ruling.
The judge, from the Northern District of Georgia, added that the secretary of state must make "diligent and reasonable" efforts to inform residents about registration, especially those that have until Monday to re-register to vote in a January special election for a seat in the House of Representatives.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger welcomed the decision, saying the state was ensuring that every eligible voter could vote.
"Today Judge Jones upheld Georgia's decision to maintain clean voter rolls," Raffensperger said after the ruling.
"Despite activists' efforts and lawsuits that only waste taxpayers' dollars, Georgia is continuing to ensure every eligible voter can vote and voter lists remain accurate."
Fair Fight Action, founded by Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams, who narrowly lost the 2018 race for governor to present Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, said it was looking at additional legal options.
"The Court today declined to issue an injunction on the purge, but expressed that it has a 'serious concern that there needs to be an immediate and accurate interpretation by the state court of HB 316'," Lauren Groh-Wargo, chief executive at Fair Fight Action, said.
"We share this concern and are exploring additional legal options," she added.
The state's practices have previously drawn criticism from national voting rights advocates. These include purges of voter rolls and stringent rules requiring signatures on mail-in ballots.