The fate of more than 40,000 of Georgia’s voters ability to cast a ballot still hangs in the air with elections coming next Tuesday. Earlier this year, around 90,000 new voters were registered across Georgia, mostly people of color and many under 25 years old, ThinkProgress reported.
The groups compared their registration databases to the public one and noticed “about 50,000 of the registrations had vanished, nearly all of them belonging to people of color in the Democratic-leaning regions around Atlanta, Savannah, and Columbus.
Stacy Abrams (D), the state minority leader, told ThinkProgress that what happened next was “deeply disturbing.”
“We asked the Secretary of State to meet with us,” said Abrams. “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’s group, The New Georgia Project, along with the Lawyers Committee for Civil Righs Under Law and the Georgia NAACP, asked twice more for a meeting, but still had not heard anything about the missing registrations from the Secretary of State. Early voting opened with no word, so the New Georgia Project took the state to court.
Francys Johnson, President of the Georgia NAACP, told ThinkProgress:
“In 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012, we were only able to know there were problems when it was too late, when people started showing up to the polls and they were not on the voter rolls, and folks were already disenfranchised. We must catch that disenfranchisement before it takes place.”
All of this comes after the Secretary of State “publicly accused the New Georgia Project … of submitting fraudulent registration forms. A subsequent investigation found just 25 confirmed forgeries out of more than 85,000 forms – a fraud rate of about 3/100ths of 1 percent.” As Abrams said, though, the voter registration groups are required to submit every form they get, even if it’s incomplete or forged and called the accusations “an attempt to intimidate.”
It should also be noted that there are two major elections in Georgia next week: an essentially deadlocked race for an open Senate seat and possibly close race for governor.
According to Politico, the contest between David Perdue (D) and Michelle Nunn is a “toss up,” with polls showing neither candidate ahead by more than two points. The governor’s race is not quite as close, with Republican candidate Nathan Deal, ahead 46 percent to 41 percent against Democrat Jason Carter according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitutional poll. Andrew Hunt, the Libertarian candidate, is polling at 5 percent, with another seven percent undecided.