A federal judge yesterday approved a plan under which 33,632 people who have been removed from the District's voter rolls in the past two years will be permitted to vote in this year's primary and general elections.

Next week, the D.C. Board of Elections and Ethics will send postcards to the last known addresses of people who were removed to alert them that they may vote.

Whether this notification will actually bring them to the polls, however, is uncertain.

The ruling stems from a lawsuit brought by the National Rainbow Coalition and the Citizenship Education Fund against the Board of Elections. The suit challenged the board's policy of purging the names of registered voters who have not voted for four consecutive years. The groups charged that the policy was unconstitutional and that it unfairly discriminated against minorities.

The board did not oppose the suit, and the two sides worked out an agreement last week that would have allowed the purged voters to cast ballots in all future elections.

But U.S. District Judge Thomas F. Hogan said that agreement was too broad and instead called for a narrower, temporary plan permitting those purged to vote only in the Sept. 11 party primaries and Nov. 6 general election.

Hogan said at a hearing yesterday that he was reluctant to establish a precedent that roll-purging violated federal voting laws and the U.S. Constitution without a full presentation of statistical evidence and expert witnesses.

It is likely that many of those who were purged have moved out of the District or have died. The others, who were removed precisely because they did not vote, might not change old habits.

But one political analyst said the imminent turnover in local government and the large number of close races could rouse previously apathetic voters.

"There appears to be a far greater interest in this election than before," said Ronald Walters, chairman of the Howard University political science department. "A larger percentage of these people {who have not voted in recent elections} may turn out in this election."

He said he believes most of the purged voters are poor and black and that if they cast ballots in large enough numbers, their votes could influence next month's primaries.

In their lawsuit, the two advocacy groups alleged that roll-purging had a disproportionate impact on minorities.

In the 1989 purge, they said, 4.1 percent of voters in Ward 3, which has the highest percentage of white registrants, had their registrations canceled. By contrast, in predominantly black Ward 8, 17.8 percent of registered voters were removed from the rolls for not voting.

Boards of elections generally purge voter names to ensure their records are accurate and to guard against fraud.

After the hearing, Brenda Wright, attorney for the groups, said she was satisified with the judge's ruling and that she hoped the D.C. Council would pass legislation to end roll-purging for good.

Greg Moore, executive director of the Citizenship Education Fund, said yesterday's action "helps move us along," but said he would continue to seek a permanent end to purging.