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ACLU gets involved in county voting issue

POSTED: October 2, 2017 12:20 p.m.

The ACLU of Georgia has released a statement regarding a recent letter Bryan County received claiming irregularities in its number of registered voters.

The Public Interest Legal Foundation, based in Indiana, said last week that Bryan County had more registered voters than it did eligible voters as of the 2016 general election.

In a letter to the Bryan County Board of Elections, the ACLU of Georgia says: “We warn you that crafting any voter purge program based on unfounded allegations of illegality is itself likely to lead to violations of the NVRA (National Voter Registration Act), which contains strict prohibitions of when and under what circumstances a registered voter may be removed from the lists.”

That letter can be found on page 7 at: https://www.acluga.org/sites/default/files/letters.pdf.

PILF had said Bryan County is one of six in Georgia and one of 248 nationwide that was found to have more voters than adults. The organization’s press release can be found at: https://publicinterestlegal.org/blog/248-counties-registered-voters-live-adults/.

The ACLU went on to say it would be “irresponsible” to act on PILF’s “unsupported allegation.”

PILF said its numbers show that after the November 2016 general election, Bryan County reported to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission that it had 25,907 registered voters, both active and inactive. The law firm said the U.S. Census Bureau in 2016, however, only showed 22,100 adults age 18 and older in Bryan County. PILF concluded from these numbers that Bryan County has 101 percent of all eligible voters listed as registered voters.

Logan Churchwell, director of communications and research for PILF, said the ACLU “grossly misrepresents the immediate purpose and goals” of the law firm’s objective.

“Any plain reading demonstrates that we seek a number of public records to better determine the effectiveness of voter roll maintenance procedures currently in place,” Churchwell added. “The ACLU’s melodramatic attacks against a demand to summarily ‘purge’ voters actually does not exist in our correspondence.

“It is standard operating procedure for the ACLU to threaten lawsuits against jurisdictions engaging in conversations with parties other than the ACLU about voter roll maintenance,” Churchwell said. “Bless their hearts.”

Bryan County Election Supervisor Cindy Reynolds, however, said the report published by PILF "does not reflect the current state of voter registration rolls with respect to Bryan County."

Reynolds added that voter rolls in Georgia are maintained by the Secretary of State, rather than by individual counties, and that the state purged 2,934 Bryan County voters from the rolls on July 28, 2017, due to inactivity by those voters over the past two general election cycles.

"This is a regular process of the Secretary of State provided by Georgia laws to ensure that our voting rolls are as accurate as possible," Reynolds said. "The Secretary of State also uses the vital records to remove, on a regular basis, individuals who have passed away."

Churchwell went on to say that any county that “feels pressured by the ACLU or others to not disclose public records” exacerbates the risk of a lawsuit.

“The ACLU’s interruptions fit a larger pattern of the organization’s attempt to stifle discussions about voter roll integrity while concurrently preserving known vulnerabilities in registration systems that yielded thousands of irregularities as recently as the November 2016 election,” Churchwell said. “When the ACLU isn’t busy suing states to prevent public voter records being turned over to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, they are prone to attack common sense reforms like voter ID and verifying residences claimed in voter registration.”

For more information, please see: http://www.bryancountynews.com/section/101/article/50721/.

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