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24 November 2018

Georgia Democrat leaders were for voter purging before they were against it

Georgia Democrats claim the state's so-called "use it or lose it" voter registration law is an affront to democracy. Years ago, though, two critics of the law actually supported it in the state legislature.

State Democratic Party chairman DuBose Porter lashed out at former Secretary of State Brian Kemp, the Republican governor-elect, for actions Porter says kept people from voting.

(Georgia Democrat leaders [from left] Steve Henson, Nan Orrock and DuBose Porter voted for the state's controversial "use it or lose it" voter registration rule in 1997. Images courtesy: Georgia State Senate and Democratic Party of Georgia)
"Republican lawmakers in Georgia have already mounted a concerted effort to restrict access to the ballots," Porter wrote in a 2015 Savannah Morning News editorial. "And it continues with Republicans pushing to hack away at early voting days and a Secretary of State who regularly purges our voter rolls."

Purging removes inactive voters from official voting lists.

Georgia law says a person who has had "no contact" with elections supervisors during the preceding three calendar years are considered inactive voters. If an inactive voter does not make contact after receiving a notice from the Secretary of State, then they are removed from the inactive voter list; forcing them to re-register to vote.

The state statute, described by NPR as the "use it or lose it" law, came under scrutiny after the revelation that more than 100,000 Georgians were removed from the voting lists prior to the November 2018 election.

"In his time as Secretary of State, Brian Kemp’s office has overseen voter purges, data breaches, and policies that disenfranchise minority voters," state Senator Nan Orrock (D - Atlanta) declared in a Democratic Party press release.

Orrock and Porter previously served in the Georgia House of Representatives. They both supported the state's "use it or lose it" law, even voting for the bill on the House floor.

Legislative records show "yes" votes from Porter and Orrock on House Bill 889, the proposal that created "use it or lose it."

The 1997 law passed the Georgia House without a single, dissenting vote. The process repeated itself in the Senate, where the measure again passed without a single vote against it.

Senate Democratic Leader Steve Henson supported the voter purge bill in the upper chamber.

Henson said, in a recent interview, "After spending years shutting down precincts and passing laws to make it harder to vote, we have deep concerns. The only thing to ensure fairness is to ensure every single vote is counted.”