On Dec. 18, with less than three weeks to go before the consequential Senate runoffs in Georgia, a right-wing voting-restrictionist group announced that it would be working through activists in the state to challenge the registration statuses of 364,541 voters.
While several counties rejected the challenges within a matter of days, the purge of so many names from the voter rolls would have enormous implications not just for the January 2021 election, which determines which party controls the Senate, but also for the rights of thousands of voters who could be shut out from participating.
The group, True the Vote, is among several groups that have long been pushing for state and local governments across the country to investigate supposed voter-roll irregularities and allegations of voter fraud. True the Vote’s effort in Georgia — which cited questionable data and asked county election officials to preemptively void registrations — also gained the support of the state’s Republican Party chairman, leading to legal questions about the legality of any potential coordination between the state party and True the Vote.
Days after the announcement of True the Vote’s attempt to purge the voter rolls, American Oversight filed open records requests in 15 counties for election officials’ communications with True the Vote or the Public Interest Legal Foundation, another voting-restriction activist group, as well as their communications with state and local Republican officials or the Georgia secretary of state’s office. We also asked the secretary of state’s office to release copies of communications with county officials regarding voter challenges or voter-roll changes.Previous investigations into the efforts of groups like True the Vote and PILF have uncovered numerous examples of such organizations, which appear to conduct their own audits of voter files, contacting state and local officials with purported abnormalities. Records already uncovered showed that PILF had sent Palm Beach County, Fla., a list of instances in which ballots were supposedly cast in the names of deceased voters — the Center for Investigative Reporting looked into that list and found “no evidence that votes have been cast for dead people in the county.”