If you're a voter in Georgia, there is a 1 in 10 chance that you were purged from the voting rolls at some point in 2017. Thanks to journalist Greg Palast, there is now a website where you can type in your name and find out if your constitutional right was stripped away from you. The bad news is that you'll only have until Tuesday to reregister — which is why the journalist wants the news about Georgia's voter purging to spread as far as possible, as fast as possible.
"I started this investigation for Al Jazeera and Rolling Stone in 2014," Palast told Salon regarding his investigative work on Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who is responsible for the voter purge and is running for governor as a Republican this year. "And Kemp has been stonewalling my requests for his purge lists and the reasons for them. And I finally got the list — not all the material we've asked for, and I should say that we sent a 90 day notice of a federal lawsuit if he didn't provide these — and within hours of the deadline we got the list of the purged voters."
According to Palast, he discovered that under Kemp, the Georgia State Department "has identified people as having moved out of state, moved out of congressional district, they should either be removed or forced to reregister. In fact they haven't the state, they haven't left the congressional district. We found one woman who moved from one side of her building to the other."
Palast added that although Kemp is required by law to send people notices that they had been removed from the roles, he hadn't been doing so.
"Basically everyone here is what we call 'purge by postcard' victims: They missed an election. They got a postcard to confirm their address. They didn't send back the postcard, they missed say the 2014 and 2016 elections, they were cancelled without further notice on the grounds that that was evidence that they had moved," Palast explained.
He added, "All these cancellations, by the way, were in 2017. You have to understand: One in ten Georgia voters were cancelled in a single year."
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During his interview with Salon, Palast took care not to overstate the magnitude of what happened. Although he estimated that roughly 750,000 voters had been removed from the rolls, he pointed out that "200,000 people have left the state, have died or have moved out of their congressional district that we're fairly certain of, or have been imprisoned and can't vote in Georgia. They're legitimate, they're definitely legitimate cancellations from the voter rolls, no question." However, he added that "what we are finding is that he has conducted an illegitimate process and which seems to be furthering his interests in running for governor as a Republican against [Democratic candidate] Stacey Abrams, who would become the first black female governor in America if she wins."
Palast also noted that, although Kemp denies that he has been working with the notorious voting restrictionist Kris Kobach (who currently serves as Kansas' secretary of state), Palast's own research tells a different story.
"Brian Kemp denies, but our very good inside information and documentary information is that Georgia has been part of Kris Kobach's interstate crosscheck program [Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck], which I've discovered some of the worst aspects of and reported on in many places, including Rolling Stone, after I first went up against Kemp," Palast told Salon. "The crosscheck list basically matches people only by first and last name, so you literally have — and Kemp denies he's in the crosscheck program except I am with my eyeballs looking at Georgia's interstate crosscheck list, sent to him by Kris Kobach — and there are over 300 people named James Brown on that list."
He added, "I've interviewed Kobach. Kobach has said quite a bit otherwise, that he is working with Kemp."
That said, even the crosscheck list only accounts for roughly 108,000 names on the purge list, Palast explained. Because Kemp is still withholding detailed information that will help Georgians learn more about who was purged from the voting rolls and why, he is participating in a lawsuit that he hopes will compel Kemp to do his constitutional duty.
"The NAACP, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, New Georgia Project and Operation Rainbow-PUSH are also joining in the lawsuit I've noticed Kemp that we will be filing," Palast explained.
It remains to be seen if that lawsuit, or Palast's new website, will be enough to make sure that the rightfully registered voters of Georgia will decide whether Kemp or Abrams becomes their state's next governor.