(ATLANTA) – The Georgia NAACP and the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda are moving to stop 14,000 voters from being purged from the rolls before November’s general election, after a lawsuit was filed by two Fulton County voters which seeks to force the Fulton County Election Board to convene challenge hearings and purge the voters. The Georgia NAACP’s and Georgia Coalition’s motion to dismiss, which was filed today, asserts that the voter purges requested by the lawsuit would violate both state law and the National Voter Registration Act, and that the lawsuit must therefore be dismissed immediately.
The litigation, Schmitz v. Fulton County Board of Registration and Elections, was filed in Fulton County Superior Court. The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, along with Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP is filing the motion to dismiss the case on behalf of the Georgia NAACP and the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda.
“We are very concerned that this lawsuit could be an eleventh-hour attempt to disenfranchise Black Americans and communities of color in Fulton County,” said John Powers, counsel on the Voting Rights Project at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “The petitioners have no legal basis for requesting that these voters be purged from the rolls right before the November election. This is a voter suppression tactic, and we will not hesitate to use every tool in our arsenal to ensure every American can exercise their fundamental right to vote.”
Under the National Voter Registration Act, voter registration lists are not allowed to be modified within 90 days of an election. Also, the challenges do not comply with Georgia law. The challengers have failed to provide the court with the list of challenged voters. Their generic, unsubstantiated allegations that the more than 14,000 have moved out of Fulton County lacks the necessary proof and evidence, meaning that eligible voters who have not actually moved are at risk of removal.
Election officials have already begun mailing out absentee ballots to voters and early voting begins very soon – October 12. Forcing Fulton County election officials to convene challenge hearings at this late hour would throw the November 2020 election into chaos and risk disenfranchising eligible voters based on hearsay or flimsy or nonexistent evidence.
“We must fight against voter suppression like these proposed voter purges and stop it in its tracks,” said James Woodall, president of the Georgia NAACP. “We, the Georgia NAACP, will continue using every resource we have to secure access to the ballot for every eligible voter. Our action today will ensure that Black voters in Fulton County have an equal opportunity to participate in our democracy.”
“All Georgia residents must have the opportunity to make their voice heard this upcoming November,” said Helen Butler, executive director at the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda. “This lawsuit is an attempt to silence the will of the people, and we will not let that happen.”
“Now more than ever we need to protect the right to vote,” said Jennifer Dempsey, a partner at Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner LLP. “Hopefully, our work here with the Lawyers Committee will help to dissuade similar attacks on the right to vote in Georgia and in the rest of the country.”
Read the full motion here.