Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Fights to Delay Registration of Tens of Thousands of New Democratic Voters

Tuesday, October 28, 2014
Brian Kemp (photo: Georgia Secretary of State Office)

With close outcomes expected in at least two statewide races, the Republican secretary of state of Georgia is trying to prevent tens of thousands of new voters likely to vote for Democrats from participating in next month’s election.


The New Georgia Project, led by state Rep. Stacy Abrams (D), set out during the spring to register those who have never voted before, mostly minorities, and added about 90,000 people to the voter rolls. About 40,000 of those registrations, mostly those from Democratic-leaning regions, have been lost, with another 10,000 showing up on voter rolls as “pending.” Georgia’s top election official, Brian Kemp, has been unhelpful to those concerned about the missing registrations.


“We asked the Secretary of State to meet with us. We wanted to understand if we were doing something wrong, or if there was another database we didn’t have access to. But he refused to meet with us,” Abrams told ThinkProgress.


Kemp is being sued by the New Georgia Project, the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the Georgia NAACP. The plaintiffs have asked Fulton County Superior Court Judge Christopher Brasher to force Kemp’s office to process all valid registrations. For his part, Kemp has suggested that those who don’t show up on official rolls may cast provisional ballots.


That’s a non-starter for Francys Johnson, president of the Georgia NAACP. “I cannot tell you what little return we actually see in terms of provisional ballots,” Johnson told ThinkProgress. “The election is decided the night of the election. It’s not really a ballot at all.”


In an attempt to throw a smokescreen over the New Georgia Project’s allegations, Kemp has charged the group with submitting fraudulent registrations. But an investigation into the fraud allegations revealed only “25 confirmed forgeries out of more than 85,000 forms—a fraud rate of about 3/100ths of 1 percent,” according to Alice Ollstein at ThinkProgress.


Abrams pointed out that voter registrars such as those in the New Georgia Project are required to submit all completed registration forms, regardless of whether they appear to be fraudulent.


Democrat Michelle Nunn and Republican David Perdue, who are vying for Georgia’s open U.S. Senate seat, were tied at 47% in a recent poll and the race between Gov. Nathan Deal (R) and his Democratic challenger Jason Carter, grandson of former President Jimmy Carter, could go to a runoff.

- Steve Straehley, Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

40,000 Voter Registrations Have Mysteriously Vanished, Could Determine Control Of The Senate (by Alice Ollstein, ThinkProgress)

Less Than 1 Percent of Voter Registration Forms Turned in by a Georgia Group Accused of Fraud Are Actually Fraudulent (by Hunter Schwarz, Washington Post)

Justice Dept. Sues Georgia to Ensure Overseas Military Right to Vote (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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