ATLANTA — This week, Georgia elections officials and the state’s attorney general warned against voter fraud in the form of new residents who may have no plans of staying after voting in the two upcoming and hotly contested Senate runoffs.
At this point, the state has found no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 election, going as far as to opt for a hand recount in the presidential audit. So why is there a warning? Like everything else in the political universe, Georgia is at the center.
Almost immediately following Election Day, there was talk of organizers “moving into” Georgia to support the consequential races that consist of runoffs between Republican incumbents, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler and their Democratic challengers, Jon Ossof and Raphael Warnock.
During a Thursday press conference, the state’s voting system implementation manager in the state’s Republican-led elections office issued a bipartisan warning.
[SPECIAL SECTION: Election 2020]
“Let me be clear about this: If you want to move to Georgia and be a part of the No. 1 state in America to do business, we are happy to have you,” said Gabriel Sterling. “It’s great to have you come in. But if you are here for the sole sake of politics…. If you voted for Senate in one state and moved here to another state, I know that’s another thing that could potentially go before the courts because you’ve already cast a vote for a body that could be seated in January. Don’t game our system.”
Sterling referenced the high-profile announcement coming from former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, who declared he was moving to Georgia to help canvass in the January 5th runoffs.
“I know there’s been discussion about people coming from out of state, Andrew Yang being the most famous to come help Georgia see the light and do the right thing,” Sterling said, mocking the idea of the state turning in the wrong direction.
GEORGIA VOTER GUIDE:
- Key Dates for 2020 Runoff Elections in Georgia
- These are the 7 races that are in a runoff in Georgia
- Did you know? You can still register to vote in Georgia’s U.S. Senate runoffs
- How to vote by absentee ballot for Georgia’s U.S. Senate runoff elections
Yang, who is also mentioned in a Georgia attorney general’s press release warning against voter fraud, clarified he has no plans to vote in the election. Sterling said in a tweet Thursday that he learned about Yang’s plans after referencing him in the press conference
Channel 2 investigative reporter Nicole Carr took the warning to the non-partisan civic engagement group Georgia Stand-Up, where organizers pointed out a complete move — voter registration and state ID changes — would have to be made by Dec. 7th to be eligible in order for the individual to vote in the runoffs.
The group, which is focused on registering voters who turn 18 before the Jan. 5th race, discouraged anyone from attempting a temporary move in the light of the elections.
“If you come here, plan to stay,” said organizer Ariel Singleton.
Singleton, who encouraged new permanent residents to get registered for the runoff, said anyone with temporary residency plans could stall the elections process.
“It might lead to another recount,” Singleton said. “It might lead to another checking your actual residency. It may also lead to more voter laws as we see in the state of Georgia. You have to show your ID. So these are things you have to think about in the long run and not slide down a slippery slope.”
If the state could prove any gaming of the system, it would have to be done in court. The investigation would take a deep dive into where you actually lived over an unspecified but significant period of time.
The state’s attorney general’s office emphasized that any form of voter fraud is considered a felony and could carry a ten-year sentence and a $100,000 fine.
Here is a link for how to register to vote in Georgia: https://sos.ga.gov/index.php/Elections/register_to_vote