Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced an investigation of a voter sign-up group that was led by Democratic Senate candidate Raphael Warnock.
The Republican official, being praised by Democrats in recent days for his criticism of President Donald Trump’s claims of election fraud in the state, said in a press conference Monday that the New Georgia Project, which was founded by failed gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, is one of four groups being probed for improper activities related to voter registrations.
The third-party voting groups are under scrutiny for allegedly sending ballot applications to voters who are living outside of Georgia in an effort to get them registered to vote in the Senate runoff elections in January.
“We have opened an investigation into a group called America Votes, who is sending absentee ballot applications to people at addresses where they have not lived since 1994,” Raffensperger said in the press conference, also naming Vote Forward, The New Georgia Project and Operation New Voter Registration Georgia.
Raffensperger added that Vote Forward attempted to register a dead Alabama woman in order to vote in Georgia while the New Georgia Project sent applications to register to New York City. He also accused Operation New Voter Registration Georgia of telling college students that they can register to vote in Georgia and then change back after the runoff election.
“Voting in Georgia when you are not a resident of Georgia is a felony, and encouraging college kids to commit felonies with no regard for what [it] might mean for them is despicable. These third-party groups have a responsibility to not encourage illegal voting. If they do so, they will be held responsible,” said Raffensperger.
According to the New Georgia Project’s corporate filings, Warnock was listed as CEO of the group from 2017 until February 2020. The Democrat, who leads an Atlanta-based church and is challenging GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler, has helped the group by organizing voter mobilization drives and has been referred to in the media as its chairman and spokesman.
The New Georgia Project pushed back at the allegations, calling them “tired and false.”
“As Georgians are turning out in record numbers to have their voices heard at the polls, the Secretary of State is resorting to desperate attempts to smear law-abiding organizations and scare eligible Georgians from registering to vote in critical upcoming elections,” executive director Nse Ufot said in a statement. “We will not be deterred.”
The group’s website bills itself as a “nonpartisan effort to register and civically engage Georgians,” and has registered “nearly 400,000 people from underrepresented communities to vote in Georgia.”
This is not the fist time the New Georgia Project has been under scrutiny over voter fraud allegations. The secretary of state’s office investigated claims in 2014 that voter registration applications were allegedly forged. No charges were ever brought in the case, however, and Warnock slammed the investigation.
“Using the word voter fraud is alarmist, and it was totally unnecessary,” he said in 2017, contending that the fact there were no charges proved the group had “excellent internal controls and that we have followed the law.”
The other groups mentioned Monday by Raffensperger also pushed back on claims of improper voting activities.
“America Votes has mailed registered voters in Georgia applications to safely and securely vote by mail in the January runoffs. These mailings were sent to the list of registered voters maintained by the Secretary of State,” Sahil Mehrotra, a spokesperson for America Votes, said in an email, according to Associated Press.
“The letters our volunteers are mailing in advance of the January 5th special election are being sent only to Georgia addresses, not to any other state,” Vote Forward said in a statement. “These letters do not include registration applications and do not directly register anyone to vote.”
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