Roughly 22,000 names were put back on Georgia's voter registration list Thursday after they were incorrectly removed from the rolls during a massive purge this week.
Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger's office essentially blamed a clerical error from 2015 for mistakenly removing about 7 percent of the 309,000 registrations deemed inactive and taken off the rolls Monday.
The error was revealed as a federal judge in Atlanta heard arguments related to the state's plans for culling its registration roster ahead of the 2020 election, when both of Georgia's Senate seats will be contested and Democrats are vowing to make the state competitive in the presidential election as well.
More than 300,000 people were on course to get dropped from Georgia's voter rolls after a federal judge on Monday rebuffed an emergency request to exempt almost half of them.
Fair Fight Action — the voting rights group affiliated with the state's Democratic candidate for governor last year, Stacey Abrams — sought a court order blocking the state from removing about 120,000 people who hadn't cast a ballot since 2012 and failed to return two notices seeking to confirm their addresses.
The fight over the registration lists is part of a long run of voting rights disputes in one of the country's newest and biggest politically competitive states.
Structural barriers have created a "cost to voting" that disproportionately affects low-income Americans and reduces their participation in the electoral process, according to a report issued Tuesday by a group of academics.
"Those with fewer resources — time, money, information — are 'priced out' of participating due to factors such as election timing, voter identification requirements, felony disenfranchisement, and inefficient election management," the report concludes. "The result is that wealthier people vote at much higher rates than others."
Narrowing the pool of voters, in turn, produces consequences on society, such as increasing inequality, hindering economic growth and weakening public health, according to the report, which draws on existing social science research to summarize the problem. It also offers seven recommendations to lower the "cost of voting" as well as ensure more secure and fair elections.
Along with the candidates and the issues, the 2020 presidential election is also going to be about the voting process itself.
Russian efforts to hack into the voting systems of 2016 have boosted election security to a critical concern this time, prompting states to spend tens of millions buying new equipment, hiring cybersecurity wizards and installing software that warns of intrusions — among numerous other steps. More purchases of hardware, software and expertise are coming in the months ahead.
Whether enough money gets spent, and wisely, won't be known for sure until Nov. 3, 2020 — when the system will be subject to the one test that really matters. And whether the country decides the presidential election result is trustworthy will likely come down to how reliably things work in the relatively small number of states both nominees are contesting.
With 11 months to go, The Fulcrum reviewed information from state elections officials, the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Election Assistance Commission and news reports to get a sense of the election security landscape. Here's the state of play in the 13 states likeliest to be presidential battlegrounds.