Nse Ufot, executive director of the New Georgia Project, speaks on a Zoom call about her organization’s lawsuit over Georgia’s election deadlines.
Photo credit: Mark Niesse
Photo credit: Mark Niesse
While Raffensperger repeatedly said there was no widespread fraud that could cast doubt on the election, Ufot said he had used his office’s law enforcement powers against groups of voters.
According to the organizations, no investigators have contacted the New Georgia Project or three other constituencies since Raffensperger announced the investigation on Nov. 30.
Raffensperger is investigating election mail sent to addresses outside of the state and has announced that it will prevent groups that mislead individuals from illegally registering to vote. Only Georgia residents are allowed to vote, and Georgia residents temporarily residing elsewhere are legally entitled to absenteeism.
“Secretary Raffensperger is constantly working to maintain voter confidence in the elections in Georgia,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Jordan Fuchs. “It is telling that these groups are somehow outraged that we are asking them to stop activities that encourage clear and undeniable electoral fraud.”
ExploreGeorgia officials have exaggerated the election investigation
This is not the first time the Secretary of State has opened an investigation into the New Georgia Project.
Before Raffensperger took office, then Secretary of State Brian Kemp initiated investigations into forged signatures and incomplete forms by contractors for the New Georgia Project.
Several county election officers reported sloppy and inaccurate registration forms during the organization’s push to sign hundreds of thousands of new voters, and Kemp said at the time that he needed to ensure that only eligible voters register.
The State Election Board referred the case to the Attorney General’s office in 2017, which never brought charges against any of 17 contractors. The attorney general said the case was still open. The case concerned contractors, but not the New Georgia project itself.
Election officials should ensure the allegations are substantiated before holding press conferences shortly before the elections, said Julie Houk, attorney for the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, a Washington-based civil rights organization.
In a previous case, two days before the 2018 governor election, Kemp announced a Democratic Party hacking investigation that he won against Abrams. GBI files later showed there was no attempt at hacking and the Democratic Party of Georgia has sued Kemp over his allegations.
“This is a serious issue where misinformation and disinformation about election fraud and election fraud is advertised without, in many cases, having a legitimate basis for it,” said Houk.
Raffensperger’s office issued a press release indicting extortion charges under the state’s RICO statute when electoral groups organized or funded efforts to bring individuals to Georgia to falsely register to vote.
It’s not illegal under state law to send postcards with registration information to vote, said Bryan Sells, a proxy attorney who represents the New Georgia Project on a separate matter. The group’s postcards told potential voters how to get online and use their Georgia driver’s license or ID card to register to vote.
A New Yorker wrote on Twitter that she had received postcards from the New Georgia Project telling people how to register to vote. The New Georgia Project said the postcards should reach potential Georgia voters. Photo via Twitter.
“There is no evidence that they encouraged people who were not allowed to do anything illegal,” Sells said. What they are trying, and frankly what all political actors on both sides of the political spectrum are doing, is trying to win over anyone who might be eligible to sign up. “
A separate investigation into the New Georgia Project is also ongoing, but unrelated to the efforts of the voter registration organization and the Secretary of State. The state ethics committee is investigating whether the New Georgia Project endorsed Abrams’ election in 2018 without registering as a campaign committee or filing appeals for funds. A charge the organization has termed “unfounded”.
Three other groups besides the New Georgia Project also said Raffensperger’s allegation that they did something wrong was wrong.
According to spokesman Sahil Mehrotra, America Votes was sending requests for postal votes to voters across Georgia, using an official list of the Secretary of State’s registered voters along with postal addresses.
“When millions of voters are sent, there are of course always situations in which an address is no longer up-to-date. That was the extent of the claim that a mass mailing was going to an old address, ”Mehrotra said.
In the case of another group, Vote Forward, she denied Raffensperger’s claim that it tried to register a dead Alabama woman for voting in Georgia.
A Vote Forward spokesperson said he had sent handwritten letters to potential voters to encourage them to participate, based on a third party vendor providing voter information. The letters were only sent to addresses in Georgia, did not contain registration application forms, and did not register anyone directly to vote, according to Vote Forward.
The fourth organization, Operation New Voter Registration, said its work on registering non-state university students living in Georgia for school was legal under state law.
The cases are investigated by the secretary of the state’s 23 investigators and finally submitted to the state election committee. The board of directors has the power to reject cases, impose fines, pass electoral rules or refer cases to the attorney general for possible criminal charges.