About 50 voters were permanently removed from Hancock County’s registration list in recent months, according court filings.
Most were African-American, and the Georgia NAACP is now suing the county Board of Elections for what it says are racially biased voter purges.
Hancock County is about 100 miles southeast of Atlanta.
At issue is how the Board of Elections conducted a series of voter challenge hearings.
Julie Houk, an attorney with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, represents the plaintiffs. She said since August, at least 201 voter registrations were challenged, according to the lawsuit.
“What Hancock County tried to do was to say if someone was not found at the address on their voter registration form, then they would challenge those,” said Houk.
She said the address-based challenges violate state and federal law.
“Under state law, voters are given the opportunity to change their address when they go and vote. So there’s no advanced requirement that voters necessarily change their address if they’re still living in the same county to be able to stay on the voter registration list,” said Houk.
Don Bevill, who chairs Sparta-Hancock County Development Authority and brought more than half the challenges, said he and the board were trying to deter “a terrible amount of voter fraud” in the city of Sparta.
“If there were others who saw us removing voters and realized it was against the law to do what they were doing, they wouldn’t go in and cast a fraudulent vote,” said Bevill.
He said there was no racial motivation.
Source: WABE | LISA HAGEN