Politics

Georgia Voter Probe Offers Justification for Integrity Measures

Liberals cheer small scale of wrongdoing uncovered — distracting from sensible measures that could protect the vote

On Wednesday Georgia’s Elections Board referred 53 cases of allegedly forged voter applications to the state’s Attorney General for prosecution, the result of a three-year probe into a 2014 voter registration drive by the progressive New Georgia Project.

While the board said it found no evidence of an organized conspiracy by the New Georgia Project, it does suspect that the 53 fraudulent voter registration forms were completed by some of the 25 paid canvassers the organization hired during its voter registration drive.

The 53 fraudulent forms were the only ones found in a batch of 87,000 — a fact liberals are celebrating as some sort of proof that voter fraud is not widespread or a problem in and of itself. “A Whopping .061% Of New Georgia Project Voting Applications Might Be Fraudulent” proclaimed the left-leaning GeorgiaPol.com sarcastically.

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The Left’s reaction is “standard stuff,” Logan Churchwell, spokesman for the Public Interest Legal Foundation, told LifeZette. “They’re obviously pulling the regular tricks in trying to spin this story as a regular thing by putting a tiny percentage on it — that’s standing procedure,” he said. “But the reality is that we’re seeing essentially how limited the state election officials are in investigating many of these issues.”

That, according to Churchwell, is an important takeaway from this news. Preventing and punishing voter fraud is in many states needlessly difficult and could easily be made easier.

“All they can do is put as nice of a file together for a prosecutor’s office and then they have to go on with their lives,” he said.

Not only was that all the Georgia’s Board of Elections and Secretary of State’s office could do — it also took them years to do so.

This could have easily been avoided if Georgia followed other states’ lead and mandated that individuals who register others to vote be deputized, said Churchwell.

“If you contrast what happened in Georgia to, say, Texas, [in Texas] if you want to register someone else to vote and particularly if you want to be in that chain of custody for that voter registration form you have to be trained … Texas has to know who you are, then they have to train you first, they have to have signed paperwork saying why you’re doing this,” he explained.

While Georgia does appear to deputize individuals, or at least offer to do so, its law makes it clear that no such burden lies on organizations seeking to register voters.

“Nothing in this rule shall be construed to prevent private entities from conducting organized voter registration programs and assisting eligible citizens with voter registration as permitted by state or federal law, including the distribution, collection, and transmittal of mail voter registration applications to the appropriate board of registrars,” states Georgia’s “183-1-6-.02 Rules for Voter Registration by Private Entities.”

While the state does offer training to private entities, it does not appear to mandate it.

“Instruction and training for private entity voter registration activities pursuant to this rule shall be offered by the board of registrars. Training requests by private entities shall be made in writing to the board of registrars. The board of registrars shall respond in writing to such requests with a training confirmation, including the date, time, and location such training will take place,” the law states.

“The thing that this group and any other group is most afraid of is if they require people to be deputized and trained beforehand,” said Churchwell, adding that they also fear something else that Texas has done, which is to outlaw paying people to register.

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“The larger story here is that every time a legislature goes into session and they try to create a system like you have in Texas … when states try to create more uniformity in training and registration for those that want to help others to register to vote, and they want to take away economic incentives to commit fraud — when states try to crack down on those issues … a lot of these left-wing groups will lobby very hard and call it voter suppression,” he said.

“The reason we need better accountability is that they couldn’t even find [11 of the 14 canvassers suspected of committing the fraud] — if they can’t find the people that turned over VR forms to them, then we need to figure out how to avoid that in the future,” Churchwell said. The state of Georgia “did not have the tools available to them.”

“That is the fight that these groups do not want to have — to make voter registration a cleaner and transparent process,” he said. “Because they lose opportunities to pay people to register, and the burdens come back on them for performing sloppy work.”

(photo credit, homepage images: John S. Quarterman, Flickr / iStock)

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