Allegations of Voter Fraud Fueled By Political Fear

Chloe Prendergast

In this year’s first issue of The Southerner I wrote a comment about the importance of voting, a constitutional right that is now being challenged.

In recent weeks, the New Georgia Project was alleged of participating in voter fraud. The New Georgia Project, a nonpartisan group founded by House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, has worked to register 85,000 minorities in our state this year. Republican leaders in our state have once again played the voter fraud card that they played so well to obtain voter I.D. laws in 2012, despite very few reports of actual fraud.

According to the New York University School of Law baseless claims of voter found are usually politically motivated.

The School explains, “The Brennan Center’s [a non-partisan law and policy institute] ongoing examination of voter fraud claims reveal that voter fraud is very rare, voter impersonation is nearly nonexistent, and much of the problems associated with alleged fraud in elections relates to unintentional mistakes by voters or election administrators.”

The cries of voter fraud of registration forms in Georgia today are much more myth than reality. As is usually the case when a politician claims voter fraud, the claims against the New Georgia Project are, for the most part, unsubstantiated.

To Republicans, registering new voters, especially minority voters, is nothing but threatening. Minorities in this nation are statistically far more likely to vote for a Democratic candidate than a Republican. A Pew Poll conducted in 2012 found that 87 percent of African-American voters identified themselves as Democrats, but only 8 percent as Republicans. To the Republican Party, new voters are a recipe for defeat.

Their grip on Georgia’s government will slowly but surely weaken as more and more minorities begin to vote. For the sake of their party’s platform and its power, Republicans are attempting to prevent registration of new voters.

The blatant attempt to disenfranchise, after verifying, 40,000 new voters saddens me. According to the the Secretary of State of Georgia’s website, Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office identifies 51 suspect forms. As a result of these 51 forms that could potentially include false information, all 40,000 voter registrations are being held up until after the election.

What the New Georgia Project has done is completely legal. State law requires the organization to submit every single application it receives, whether it is filled out correctly or not.

The group collecting the registration forms is only required to submit the registrations within 10 days of collecting them.

“If the form says Mickey Mouse registered in Anaheim, California, we have to turn that form in,” Abrams said in an interview with Newsweek.

There is no need for an investigation that halts the processing of more than 40,000 people’s registrations due to 25 false forms and 26 suspect ones. To put this in perspective, only 0.006 percent of the forms turned in are under suspicion.

I’m not sure that the magnitude of the New Georgia Project’s efforts to register minorities are really fathomable to those who have never carried a registration clipboard around for hours at a time. On a good day you might register 10 people. I am unable to imagine being able to register 85,000 people in a matter of months. It is incredible and unexpected and should be celebrated not scorned.

Rev. Raphael Warnock, the senior pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, is a huge proponent of getting out the vote and believes that the Republican’s misguided efforts to disenfranchise voters may have the opposite effect.

“Ironically, the secretary of state, through his unjustified and unfortunate actions, has turned out to be an unlikely ally in our efforts to register new voters,” Warnock said in an interview with Newsweek. “The African-American community, because of a very painful history, takes great exception to any efforts to take away people’s right to vote—even people who weren’t planning to vote. Somehow they hear that someone’s trying to take it from them [they] become very motivated to make it to the polls.”

We will find out tomorrow if Warnock’s prediction proves true.