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DeKalb Elections Board settles with NAACP for $82,500

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DeKalb Elections Board settles with NAACP for $82,500

A sign directs voters to the Oakhurst Baptist Church polling location in Decatur on Jan. 5, 2021. Photo by Dean Hesse.

By Logan C. Ritchie, contributor

DeKalb County, GA — DeKalb County Board of Registrations and Elections voted on June 29 to settle a lawsuit for $82,500 filed by Georgia Chapter of NAACP and Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda. 

NAACP and Coalition for the People’s Agenda alleged in a lawsuit filed February 2020 that DeKalb County Elections Board was unlawfully purging voters from the DeKalb County registration rolls in violation of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NVRA).  

The lawsuit states: “Plaintiffs allege that the cancellation of certain registrations violates the requirements of federal law because the DeKalb BRE failed to either (1) provide a written notice that conformed to the requirements of the NVRA or (2) wait through two general election cycles before cancelling the registrations in question, as the NVRA requires.”

Board member Susan Motter presented the motion: “To resolve this lawsuit, plaintiffs and their counsel will be paid the total sum of $82,500, subject to approval of that payment by the DeKalb County governing authority, and the Board of Registration and Elections will continue to utilize the written procedures for voter challenges previously adopted for at least two years after the effective date of the settlement agreement, and will not amend said procedures during that two-year period, except to the extent that amendment is necessary to comply with changes in applicable laws or regulations.” 

The vote was split 3-1-1. Vice chair Baoky Vu abstained, and board member Anthony Lewis voted no. 

Vu told Decaturish he abstained because he was concerned about the financial costs of the settlement without additional rulings as a guidance, as it “highlights the complexities of voting process with overlapping rules from federal and state edicts.”

Lewis said he is uncomfortable committing public money to pay attorneys fees without two branches of state government involved.

“This is an issue where state and federal law are involved and there is some concern over how to apply them both,” Lewis said. 

*Correction: The headline previously stated the incorrect amount of the settlement and has been updated to state the correct amount of $82,500.

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