Hundreds of senior citizens at a Southwest Atlanta high rise are concerned they may lose their right to vote.
Betty Walton has lived at the Atrium at Collegetown for nearly a decade, but according to Fulton County, her address isn't real.
"That doesn't make any sense. You can see the building, so it does exist," said Walton.
Walton is one of hundreds of seniors who may soon be removed from the voter rolls because of a mistake by the Fulton County Department of Registration and Elections.
About a week ago, the department sent out a letter telling Walton and others like her that they had to provide proof that their address was valid.
The letter said if they didn't, they would be purged from the voter rolls.
"I was shocked because why would you send letters out? Why would you go that far to send letters out? What it is going to do is scare a lot of seniors. They are going to think they should not vote because they received a letter," said Walton.
"I think it is irresponsible for the director of the board of elections to sign his name to this letter without the proper investigation," said Rashard Taylor, a state representative from Atlanta. "Purging someone from the rolls, taking away their right to vote ought to be an uphill battle. There ought to be several hurdles you have to go through, it shouldn't be an easy task to do."
Samuel Westmoreland, the director of registration and elections, refused to answer CBS Atlanta's Tough Questions on camera, but he did release this statement.
"It is the responsibility of the Fulton County Department of Registration and Elections to vigilantly maintain the accuracy of voter rolls, which consist of nearly 700,000 electors. Georgia state law provides for procedures for verification of voter addresses in order to ensure that voter rolls are current and accurate.
"Fulton County recently followed up on a request made by the Georgia Secretary of State's Office to investigate certain registered voter addresses that had been identified as having been demolished. One of those addresses was 435 E Joseph Lowery Blvd., SW Atlanta.
"Following the procedure outlined in Georgia Law (O.C.G.A. Sec. 21-2-228), the Fulton County Department of Registration and Elections notified voters at 435 E Joseph Lowery Blvd., SW Atlanta of an upcoming hearing at which they would have the opportunity to verify that their address was accurate and current.
"In the meantime, a further review confirmed that all addresses at 435 E. Joseph Lowery Blvd. were accurate and current, since a new senior living development located at that address (The Atrium at College Town) has the same address as a previous property at that address that was demolished.
"Upon confirmation of this information, all registered voters at that address were mailed a subsequent notice informing them that they would not need to attend a hearing to confirm their address.
"We certainly regret any concern and inconvenience caused to the residents living at 435 E. Joseph Lowery Blvd., SW. I extend my most sincere apology to each of them.
"It should be noted that during this same process, additional addresses throughout Fulton County received similar letters.
"Of those, many were found to be unoccupied properties, including numerous demolished properties that are now vacant lots, which will likely cause 1,207 improperly registered individuals to be ultimately eliminated from the rolls.
"An accurate and current voter registration roll is the cornerstone of a fair election process. We are pleased to have the opportunity to correct the rolls in cases where addresses were found to be inaccurate."
Copyright 2012 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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