Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) issued an unequivocal warning Friday to Democrats’ call for Georgia run-off election vacation voters: “Moving to Georgia temporarily in order to vote in January 5 runoff is illegal and will be prosecuted.”
Further clarifying the spirit of the law, he said, “Moving to the state with the sole purpose of voting and leaving is illegal and is considered voter fraud. Per O.C.G.A § 21-2-561, it is a felony to register to vote in Georgia if you are not a resident of Georgia with no intention of staying and is punishable by up to 10 years in jail and a $100,000 fine.”
Raffensperger’s statement addressed legitimate concerns raised by statements [from] Andrew Yang, the former Democratic presidential candidate who said he would “move”to Georgia for the runoff” on Twitter. Yang subsequently retracted his threat (admissible as evidence of intent, should charges of voter fraud be pressed), saying that he would not register to vote.
To be clear I am heading to Georgia to get out the vote, canvas, knock on doors and let people know how important the special Senate races are. I do not plan on voting myself – I already cast a vote in NY. On to Georgia!
— Andrew Yang🧢🇺🇸 (@AndrewYang) November 12, 2020
Yang, however, appears not to be the only prominent Democrat to eschew “one man, one vote” in practice, whilst endorsing political equality in the abstract. Breitbart reports that “New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman is encouraging non-Georgia residents to move to the state so they can register to vote in two January 5 Senate runoff elections” when he talked to CNN’s Chris Cuomo.
Fox News reported that “Intelligencer’s Eric Levitz wrote in a now-deleted tweet that was captured by Washington Examiner reporter Jerry Dunleavy: ‘These run-offs will decide which party controls the Senate, and this, whether we’ll have any hope of a large stimulus-climate bill. If you have the means and the fervor to make a temporary move to GA, believe anyone who registers by Dec. 7 can vote in these elections.’”
“Let me be clear: those who come to Georgia with the intention of voter fraud will be prosecuted. We thoroughly investigate every single allegation of voter fraud,” the GOP Secretary of State reiterated.
Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs added, “Anyone moving to our state to attempt to illegally influence the election could face a hefty fine and the possibility of up to 10 years behind bars. Do you value your freedom? If so, don’t commit voter fraud in Georgia.”
Statistical improbability notwithstanding, Breitbart reports: “according to the Heritage Center voter fraud data base, there has been only one criminal conviction for false registration in Georgia since 2011.”
Several influential GA Republican legislators have demanded that Georgia GOP governor Brian Kemp call a special session to address the voter fraud concerns of the run-off.
State Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Cherokee), in a scathing letter to his colleagues, writes:
I have lived in Fulton County for 26 years and in every election no matter how small the election, there is incompetence and chaos!! I will not speak for the other six counties that had problems, but if we think Fulton County is going to look at three signatures if the first one doesn’t match like Gabe Sterling said should happen we are mistaken. It will not happen. Also, if you believe that between now and January 5 that all of the sudden Fulton County is going to do a great job, we are mistaken. It will not happen.
If Stacy Abrams were Governor or the Secretary of State was a Democrat, we would be on the steps of the Capitol having a press conference demanding a special session not having private zoom calls. Let me assure you if you think that Stacy Abrams is going to play fair we are mistaken. It will not happen. I keep hearing that if we call a special session, Stacy will sue us. I have news for you–she is going to sue us anyway. We are in charge and in my opinion if we want to stay in charge, we must lead. Everyone knows how critical these two U.S. Senate seats are to the future of our country. I do not want to wake up on January 6 and say what happened?? Or should I say January 12 if the election is run like November’s election.
I don’t claim to have all the answers but I know this, I don’t want my future in the hands of Fulton County elections knowing we did nothing to help between now and January 5. At this point, I believe doing nothing is not an option. At the minimum we need resources in those 7 counties watching the election process.
Let’s take the lead!!!
David Shafer, a former state senator from Duluth who is now Georgia Republican Party Chairman, echoed Beach’s salvo.
“It’s unlawful to register to vote in Georgia if you do not intend to permanently live here. Existing election law should be enforced,” Shafer said. “If we enforce current law, a special session may not be necessary.”
Shafer said he has written a letter to Raffensberger about social media posts advocating and encouraging Georgia run-off voter fraud. “We should start with the people who are openly advocating on social media to brazenly flaunt our election laws. I sent a letter to Secretary Raffensberger asking him to separate out any new registrants for review. We cannot allow the votes of Georgians to be cancelled out by those who do not actually live here,” Shafer said.
Meantime, Senator David Perdue (R-GA), one of the two incumbent GOP Senators in the run-off election that will determine which Party controls the U.S. Senate, blasted the Democrat effort to subvert the intent of the Georgia run-off registration law.
In response to calls for Democrats to move to Georgia ahead of the December 7 voter registration deadline, Perdue, in a statement, demanded that Georgia Republicans request Raffensperger take additional measures to protect the integrity of the January 5 Senate run-off elections.
“Every legally eligible Georgia voter deserves to have their voice heard in this runoff election,” said Perdue for Senate campaign manager Ben Fry.
“Like Chairman Shafer, we have serious concerns about Democrat efforts to encourage non-Georgians to temporarily move to our state, only to vote in the two most critical Senate elections in modern history and go home. Steps must be taken to ensure our election system is secure. We now request that you utilize your broad powers to ensure that Georgia voters receive a fair election in January,”
The Secretary of State asks all to report any suspicion of voter fraud. Citizens may use the online reporting form at https://sos.ga.gov/cgi-bin/EMailStopVoterFraud.asp or call the Voter Fraud Hotline at 877-725-9797 to report questionable elections activity. A POST-certified investigator will contact them for more information if needed.
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Maggie Bean is a reporter at The Georgia Star and The Star News Network.
Photo “Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger” by Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger