Vote here file photo

Gwinnett County elections officials are preparing to send out notices to about 22,000 voters, who the state has listed as “inactive,” to inform them that they have 30 days to fix their voter registration status of they will be removed from the voter rolls.

Thousands of people on Gwinnett County’s voter rolls who haven’t voted in awhile could be kicked off if they don’t quickly respond to notices the county’s elections office is be preparing to send out.

Gwinnett Elections Supervisor Kristi Royston said about 22,000 voters in the county are set to receive NGE notices — NGE essentially stands for “no activity through two general elections.”

These voters are therefore deemed “inactive” by state elections officials, and are scheduled to be removed from voter rolls if they don’t quickly update their registration information. Officially, the registrations are “canceled” if the voter does not respond.

This is part of a change in how Georgia removes “inactive” voters from the voter rolls, since state law now requires notices be sent out to voters to let them know they are scheduled for removal.

“This is a change to this process that came out of House Bill 316,” Royston said. “This cancellation has taken place before, but in the past, there was not a notification prior to removal.

“If you look at House Bill 316, there’s a section in it that now addresses that we will — the county registrars — send a notice to the affected voters, and then once they receive that notice, they would respond and if they don’t respond, then they will be removed.”

This is the first time that Georgia has used the notification system for voter registration “cancellations” since House bill 316 became law earlier this year, according to Royston.

The removal of voters who were deemed “inactive” from the voter rolls — referred to as “voter purges” by critics of the practice — was a significant issue in last year’s state general election amid of other controversial issues, such as perceived signature mismatches on absentee by mail ballots.

Royston said officials at the Secretary of State’s office determine who is inactive and should be removed from the voter rolls. In every other county in Georgia, the state is handling the mailing of notices.

Gwinnett, which is the only county in Georgia that falls under a federal requirement to provide elections materials in English and Spanish, is the lone exception.

The state is providing county officials with the names of voters deemed inactive and leaving it up to the county to handle notifying the affected voters.

“Since we’re the only county that has both English and Spanish (elections language requirements), we get the file and then work with our vendor to produce and print our notices,” Royston said.

Voters who receive an NGE notice will have 30 days to either fill out a form on the notice and send it to Gwinnett elections officials, or update their voter registration information online.

It is not clear when the notices will be sent out, however. Royston said she is still waiting to receive word form the state to send the notices out.

But that doesn’t mean voters who are concerned that they may have been put on the list have to wait and see if they receive a notice.

Gwinnett voters can check their voter registration status at bit.ly/1JkIg5q. That will tell them if the state lists them if they are active, or inactive.

If voters are listed as “inactive,” they can use the website to fix their registration information, or go ahead and call the Gwinnett elections office at 678-226-7210.

Minutes from the Oct. 15 elections board meeting show that Gwinnett added 3,136 voters in September, as the deadline for registering to vote in next month’s municipal elections approached.

The minutes also show there was a total of 547,452 active voters registered in Gwinnett as of the beginning of October.

The Gwinnett County Democratic Party encouraged vigilance in regards to the voter registration statuses of party members in light of the announcement at the elections board meeting.

“If you receive one of these notices or know someone who may be in receipt of such notice, please make sure they respond and check their voter registration status,” the local party said in its email to members.

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I'm a Crawford Long baby who grew up in Marietta and eventually wandered to the University of Southern Mississippi for college. Earned a BA in journalism (double minor in political science and history). Previously worked in Florida and Clayton County.

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