Spalding Board of Elections to consider legal challenge of 181 registered voters

SHEILA A. MATHEWS :::

The Spalding County Board of Elections has scheduled a special called meeting for 10 a.m. today to discuss a legal challenge to 181 Spalding County voters.

The challenge was filed by Michelle Knight, who claims the 181 people currently registered to vote in Spalding County are ineligible to cast ballots in the Jan. 5, 2021 United States Senate runoff race.

“The specific grounds for each challenge is they have filed a permanent change of address which is grounds to believe they have moved out of the county,” Knight wrote in an email to Spalding County Election Supervisor Marcia Ridley.

Knight’s challenge is based upon OCGA 21-2-230, which she says support the 1993 National Voter Registration Act (NVOA), which permits secretaries of state to utilize national change of address (NCOA) information to identify registered voters who may have moved.

“If the registrant appears to have moved to a residence outside of the registrar’s jurisdiction, the NVRA further permits the use of NCOA information to prompt the removal of a registrant from the voter roles after satisfying specified processes,” Knight’s challenge states. “Consistent with the 1993 NVRA, Georgia Code §21-2-233 expressly permits the Secretary of State to utilize ‘change of address information supplied by the United States Postal Service through its licensees periodically for the purpose of identifying those electors whose addresses have changed.’”

Knight’s challenge further claims that United States Code § 20507 requires Georgia “to protect the integrity of the electoral process by ensuring the maintenance of an accurate and current voter registration roll for elections for Federal Officer.”

According to Knight’s challenge, it has been at least 17 months since the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office conducted a comprehensive NCOA review of registered voters that could identify changes in voters’ residences.

“In that time, no fewer than 180K registered Georgia voters have submitted Change-of-Address requests with the US Postal Service to permanently forward their mail to residential addresses outside of the Georgia county in which they are currently registered to vote,” the challenge states.

Knight stressed that any political party affiliation or lack thereof played no role in her challenge.

Furthermore, Knight said she is not alleging wrongdoing. Her challenge represents only a desire for procedural propriety.

“If that list were 100 percent Republican and they’re not legal voters in Spalding County, I would still say they need to be removed. This isn’t about party affiliation. It’s about what keeps our elections fair,” Knight said.

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