Politics

Georgia Secretary of State announces plans to investigate voting groups convened by Stacey Abrams

PHOTO CREDITS: NBC NEWS

Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s Secretary of State, has announced plans to investigate voting advocacy groups convened by Stacey Abrams over allegations of attempts to register dead people to vote.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has launched investigations into several groups, including one founded by former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, for seeking to “aggressively” register “ineligible, out-of-state, or deceased voters” before the state’s Jan. 5 Senate runoff elections. Raffensperger’s office on Wednesday said the investigations are into groups including America Votes, Vote Forward, and The New Georgia Project — which was founded by Abrams and previously chaired by Democratic Senate candidate Raphael Warnock.

America Votes has been alleged to have been “sending absentee ballot applications to people at addresses where they have not lived since 1994.” Vote Forward, Raffensperger said, “attempted to register a dead Alabama voter, a woman, to vote here in Georgia.” The New Georgia Project reportedly “sent voter registration applications to New York City.” The New Georgia Project had Democrat contender for one of Georgia’s senate seats, Raphael Warnock, as chair of the group until January.

Also from The New Georgia Project, a man received voter registration requests for his daughter, who hasn’t been living in Georgia for five years. A New Yorker reported receiving packets of postcards encouraging people to vote in the upcoming Georgia senate race. A resident of Fulton County said that they had received “no less than five postcards” asking for “the same dead person” to register to vote. A resident in Cherokee County got a voter registration form for a person at that address who is not an eligible voter. “Operation New Voter Registration Georgia,” Raffensperger said, “is telling college students in Georgia that they can change their residency to Georgia and then change it back after the election,” (PM).

Raffensperger for weeks has issued warnings against efforts to register individuals who are ineligible to vote in Georgia’s runoff elections or to encourage people to come to Georgia with the sole purpose of casting ballots. “I have issued clear warnings several times to groups and individuals working to undermine the integrity of elections in Georgia through false and fraudulent registrations,” Raffensperger said in a statement Wednesday. “The security of Georgia’s elections is of the utmost importance.” Raffensperger said Wednesday that his office has “received specific evidence that these groups have solicited voter registrations from ineligible individuals who have passed away or live out of state. I will investigate these claims thoroughly and take action against anyone attempting to undermine our elections,” he vowed.

Raffensperger’s office also has 23 investigators working on 250 open investigations into “credible claims of illegal voting” and election law violations, he said. According to the Georgia Code, false registration, i.e. someone who registers to vote knowing that they do not possess the qualifications required by law, is a felony and can be punished by between one and 10 years in prison and/or up to a $100,000 fine. Raffensperger’s office on Wednesday detailed several instances in which the Abrams-Warnock associated group, The New Georgia Project, have allegedly solicited voters living out of state and people who have passed away. Warnock was chairman of the group until January.

Raffensperger’s office referenced one Fulton County resident who reported receiving five postcards from The New Georgia Project soliciting a registration “for the same dead person” and a Cherokee County resident who received a voter registration solicitation from The New Georgia Project for his spouse who is ineligible to vote. A third person, according to Raffensperger’s office, said The New Georgia Project sent a voter registration solicitation to his daughter who is not registered to vote in Georgia and had not lived in a different state for five years, while a fourth individual reported receiving a “package of postcards” at her home in New York City from The New Georgia Project encouraging people to register to vote in the Georgia Senate runoffs.

Another effort, according to Georgia election officials, Operation New Voter Registration GA, encouraged Emory students to register fraudulently to vote in the Jan. 5 runoffs. A flier from the group told students that “Your current residence can be another state. You are simply changing your state of residence now; and it can be switched back for future elections (your option).”

Meanwhile, Vote Forward, a nonprofit organization, sent a letter to a long-deceased Alabama resident, encouraging her to register to vote, while America Votes, which calls itself “the coordination hub of the progressive community,” sent two absentee ballot applications in one week to an individual at an address where they had not resided since July 1994.

The current balance of power for the next Senate coming out of this month’s elections is 50 Republicans and 48 Democrats. That means Democrats must win both of Georgia’s runoff elections to make it a 50-50 Senate. If that occurs, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris would be the tie-breaking vote, giving her party a razor-thin majority in the chamber. In Georgia, where state law dictates a runoff if no candidate reaches 50% of the vote, GOP Sen. David Perdue narrowly missed avoiding a runoff, winning 49.75% of the vote. Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff trails by roughly 87,000 votes.

In the other race, appointed Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler captured nearly 26% of the vote in a whopping 20-candidate special election to fill the final two years of the term of former GOP Sen. Johnny Isakson. The Democratic candidate in the runoff, Rev. Raphael Warnock, won nearly 33% of the vote in the first round (FOX).

POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

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