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President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in support of Senate candidates Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., and David Perdue in Dalton, Ga., Monday, Jan. 4, 2021. (AP) President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in support of Senate candidates Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., and David Perdue in Dalton, Ga., Monday, Jan. 4, 2021. (AP)

President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in support of Senate candidates Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., and David Perdue in Dalton, Ga., Monday, Jan. 4, 2021. (AP)

Amy Sherman
By Amy Sherman June 23, 2021

Trump’s Pants on Fire distortion about Georgia’s voter rolls

If Your Time is short

  • Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced that the state is in the process of removing about 100,000 obsolete and outdated voter files. Most of the flagged individuals had moved.
  • Federal law generally bans such mass removals of voters within 90 days of a federal election, which means that states such as Georgia typically conduct the large number of removals the year before or after a federal election.
  • The fact that Georgia election officials are removing outdated voter files in 2021 does not change the fact that Trump lost the election in 2020.

Former President Donald Trump distorted Georgia’s plans to remove ineligible voters, wrongly suggesting that the state failed to keep the voter rolls up to date before the 2020 election and that therefore, he won.

Trump’s claim alludes to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s announcement that the state plans to remove 101,789 people from its voter rolls, largely those who have since moved. While that effort is routine, Trump cast it as suspicious.

"But what about the last election? Why wasn’t this done prior to the November 3rd presidential election where they had us losing by a very small number of votes, many times less than the 101,789 figure?" Trump said in a June 22 statement from his Save America PAC. "This means we (you!) won the Presidential Election in Georgia. 

Trump ended with a familiar refrain: "The 2020 presidential election was rigged!" Trump’s repeated statements that he won the presidential election in Georgia or nationally or that it was rigged are Pants on Fire wrong

Trump’s latest claim, that the removal of more than 100,000 people from the voter rolls suggests something nefarious about the 2020 election, ignores the reality. State officials nationwide are in the process of removing ineligible voters.

"This is happening across the U.S. in every state, and it is focused on voters who literally did not vote in 2020," said Amber McReynolds, CEO of Vote at Home Institute. "So, Trump clearly does not understand federal law or election processes or procedures." 

We asked Trump’s Save America PAC for evidence to back up his statements and did not get a reply.

Background on routine maintenance of voter rolls 

Nationwide, voter rolls constantly change. New people register to vote or people are removed after they move away, die, or in some states, after they are convicted of certain crimes. 

State election officials have programs in place to keep voter rolls up to date. These efforts aren’t perfect — sometimes states make errors. But states have gotten better at working together on this front — many, including Georgia, are members of the Electronic Registration Information Center, which shares information about voters.

The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 requires states to complete a program to remove ineligible voters who have moved not later than 90 days before a federal election. Some removals can still take place within the 90-day window, such as voters who have died. Georgia election officials removed dead voters throughout 2020.

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Due to the 90-day rule, states generally avoid mass removals during federal election years.

"Many states, including Georgia, do these activities in odd-numbered years, as this also means that if anyone was inadvertently removed, they have plenty of time to re-register before the next federal election," said David Becker, executive director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research.

Georgia’s plan to clean up its voter rolls

Raffensperger announced in June that most of the people slated for removal from Georgia’s voter rolls had moved — they had submitted a change of address form to the post office or had election mail returned. These individuals had no contact with elections officials in the past two general elections. 

Election officials plan to send people a notice that they will be removed and give them 40 days to respond. People who are eventually removed can re-register if they are eligible.

The number of voters flagged for removal is smaller than previous years. In 2019, the state removed about 290,000 voters, and in 2017 about 670,000

Additionally, about 18,000 people who have died are being removed from the voter rolls.

List maintenance in 2021 has no bearing on the outcome of the 2020 election

Trump is wrong to claim that these removals of voters means that he won the election in Georgia. Raffensperger and Gabriel Sterling, also a Republican and a state elections official, stand by Georgia’s election procedures, which affirmed Joe Biden’s victory in the state.

The roughly 5 million ballots cast in Georgia were counted three times, including once by hand. The hand recount uncovered more than 2,600 uncounted votes, most of which favored Trump, in Floyd County. But election officials said the mistake was due to human error, not voter or election fraud. In the end, the certified results showed Biden beat Trump by 11,779 votes in Georgia. Congress accepted the results Jan. 6. 

Our ruling

Trump said Georgia didn’t update its voter rolls prior to the 2020 presidential election and "this means we (you!) won the presidential election in Georgia."

Trump is wrong on both counts. Federal law requires states to establish programs to keep voter rolls up to date. To comply with the law, Georgia and other states routinely handle such removals in non-federal election years. In 2019, the state removed about 290,000 voters. In 2021, the state is on track to remove about 100,000 voters.

The removal of voters who have moved, died or are otherwise ineligible is a routine occurrence, and it doesn’t change this fact: Georgia election officials certified the results showing that Trump lost.

We rate this statement Pants on Fire.

Our Sources

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Press release about list maintenance, June 18, 2021

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Press release about 22,000 voters, 2019

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Georgia releases list of 102K voter registrations to be canceled, June 18, 2021

Mark Niesse, Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter, Tweet, June 22, 2021

Stephen Fowler, Georgia Public Radio, Tweet, June 22, 2021

Associated Press, Georgia officials seek to remove 102,000 voters from rolls, June 18, 2021

Electronic Registration Information Center, Accessed June 22, 2021

Department of Justice, National Voter Registration Act of 1993

PolitiFact, Here’s why Georgia’s Republican officials are confident in their presidential election results, Jan. 5, 2021; Kamala Harris says voter suppression kept Stacey Abrams, Andrew Gillum out of office. Really?, May 10, 2019

Georgia Secretary of State’s office, Statement to PolitiFact, June 22, 2021

Email interview, Amber McReynolds, CEO of the National Vote at Home Institute, June 22, 2021

Email interview,  David Becker, executive director of the Center for Election Innovation and Research, June 22, 2021

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Trump’s Pants on Fire distortion about Georgia’s voter rolls

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