ATLANTA – Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is referring the cases of 1,634 people who tried to register to vote but could not be verified as U.S. citizens for investigation by state and local authorities.
The names of those would-be voters turned up last month in the first citizenship audit of voter rolls in Georgia history.
Raffensperger blamed voting rights groups for many of the attempts by non-citizens to register.
“Attempting to register to vote while knowing you do not possess the qualifications to vote is a felony in Georgia, a serious one,” he said at a news conference Monday. “Outside groups that attempt to help noncitizens register to vote will face consequences as well.”
Raffensperger backed a constitutional amendment state Senate President Pro Tempore Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, introduced at the beginning of this year’s legislative session to ban non-U.S. citizens from voting in Georgia.
On Monday, Raffensperger cited a poll showing 80% of Georgians support banning noncitizens from voting.
The Senate Ethics Committee approved Miller’s constitutional amendment, but it got no further in the legislature. Opponents argued state law already prohibits non-U.S. citizens from voting.
Raffensperger’s remarks on noncitizen voting came on the same day a lawsuit Fair Fight Action, a voting rights group founded by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, went to trial in federal court.
“Stacey Abrams and her allies are trying to get rid of Georgia’s citizenship check for voter registration, and I will fight her efforts to undermine the integrity of our elections all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court if I have to,” Raffensperger said.
Cianti Stewart-Reid, executive director of Fair Fight Action, vowed the trial would bring to light the difficulties individual Georgia voters face trying to cast ballots.
“Since the start of this lawsuit, we have highlighted real voters and their challenges because we believe reporting their experiences to be one of the most effective ways of demonstrating the barriers in Georgia’s elections system,” she said. “We will continue to amplify the voices of voters at trial.”
Raffensperger said he’s referring the cases of the people whose names turned up in the audit to the State Election Board, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and local district attorneys.
This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.