House Democrats to Probe Voter Suppression in Georgia

In this Oct. 27, 2018, file photo, voters cast their ballots ahead of the Nov. 6 general election in Marietta, Ga. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart, File)

ATLANTA (CN) — The House Oversight Committee on Wednesday launched an investigation into reports of voter suppression in Georgia during the 2018 election, asking the Peach State’s governor and top elections official, both Republicans, to turn over documents that could show voting irregularities.

Chairman Elijah Cummings and fellow Democratic Representative Jamie Raskin, chairman of the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, sent letters to Governor Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger seeking documents about voter-roll purges, the consolidation or closure of polling sites, and an “exact match” requirement that means personal information on a voter-registration form must be the same as driver’s license or Social Security data.  

“The Committee on Oversight and Reform is investigating recent reports of serious problems with voter registration, voter access, and other matters affecting the ability of people in Georgia to exercise their right to vote,” Cummings and Raskin wrote. “The committee is particularly concerned by reports that Georgians faced unprecedented challenges with registering to vote and significant barriers to casting their votes during the 2018 election.”

The House Democrats requested documents related to the more than 200 voting precincts closed in Georgia since 2012. They also want documents concerning the state’s “use it or lose it” law, which has removed more than 1.4 million voters from registration rolls for inactivity in the past six years.

The committee is also seeking records related to Kemp’s “ethical or legal obligations or possible conflicts of interest while simultaneously running for governor and overseeing the state’s elections as Georgia’s secretary of state.”

Kemp served as secretary of state from January 2010 until he narrowly defeated Democrat Stacey Abrams in the November 2018 gubernatorial election. He faced sharp criticism for his decision to continue to serve as Georgia’s top election official during his campaign.

Kemp and Raffensperger have until March 20 to submit the documents. In a statement via his spokesperson, Raffensperger confirmed receiving the request.

“Our office looks forward to an open dialogue and a thorough process,” he said.

A representative for Kemp did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In a statement released Wednesday, Georgia Democratic Party Chairwoman Nikema Williams said the party is grateful for the investigation into the “unprecedented challenges” faced by Georgia voters “perpetuated by Georgia Republicans’ continued efforts to enact an insecure and unfair election system.”

“The right to vote is absolutely foundational to our democracy, and we will never stop fighting until every Georgian can be assured that their voice is heard and their vote counted. This investigation should be a lesson for every vote suppressor: the people are watching, and you will be brought to justice,” Williams said.

Fair Fight Action CEO Lauren Groh-Wargo said in a statement that the voting rights organization, which was launched by Abrams after the election, was pleased “to see our leaders recognizing the magnitude of problems Georgians faced in 2018 due to the secretary of state’s malfeasance, as well as the state’s continued refusal to guarantee the right to implement meaningful reforms in the 2019 legislative session.”

“Every resource should be leveraged to unearth the root causes of these problems and find solutions to ensure all citizens have their fundamental right to vote,” Groh-Wargo said.

Fair Fight Action filed a federal lawsuit against Georgia elections officials in November alleging gross election mismanagement and seeking wide-ranging election reform.

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