The Brennan Center and Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta, along with a coalition of Georgia voting rights groups, sent a letter to the State Election Board and to the State Elections Director urging them to produce guidance on how counties should handle voter challenges before the upcoming election. In the past cycle, competing interpretations of state law resulted in inconsistent approaches to mass challenges across county election boards. To prevent this same uncertainty, counties need to navigate the law with more clarity and efficiency. We asked the letter recipients to issue rules on how voter challenges should be handled from start to finish before the upcoming cycle’s administrative burdens become too intense.
Groups and individuals in at least 8 counties have challenged about 65,000 voter registrations. In one alarming instance, VoterGA brought a challenge to 37,500 voters in Gwinnett County. VoterGA, which has alleged fraud in the 2020 election and argued against the use of electronic voting machines, is reportedly preparing additional mass challenges in other counties.
Elsewhere, challengers brought a mass challenge in Fulton County in October 2021 and a challenge to 1,113 voters in DeKalb County in August 2022; both boards rejected them. As of July 29 of this year, at least 1,800 voters have been removed from the rolls as a result of challenges in Chatham, Cobb, DeKalb, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett and Spalding counties.
These mass challenges are based on unreliable, unverifiable, and incomplete information and they risk disenfranchising eligible Georgia voters. In September 2022, the Brennan Center advised all 159 Georgia counties that these challenges—if permitted to go forward—would likely violate state and federal law and urged them to reject these and similar mass challenges.
In October 2022, the Brennan Center and All Voting Is Local Georgia sent a second letter to the counties. This letter stresses the legal obligations counties have to registered voters and explains best practices for dealing with challenges received in the final weeks and days before the November 2022 election. It emphasizes the administrability issues of investigating challenges to thousands of voters and urges the boards to both use their authority to reject unsupported challenges and to take proactive measures to ensure a smooth election.
- September Letter to DeKalb County Board of Elections & Registration
- September Letter to Fulton County Board of Elections & Registration
- September Letter to Other County Boards of Elections & Registration
- October Letter to County Boards of Elections & Registration
True the Vote, an anti-voter activist group, and others coordinated challenges to over 364,000 voters in all of Georgia’s 159 counties, on the basis of unreliable, unverifiable, and incomplete information. These mass challenges constituted a blatant attempt to disenfranchise Georgia voters by seeking constructive voter roll purges while early voting for the January senate runoffs was already underway.
The Brennan Center advised all 159 Georgia counties that these challenges would likely have violated state and federal law. We urged them to reject such efforts and most counties did so.
- Letter to Cobb County Board of Elections & Registration
- Letter to Muscogee County Board of Elections & Registration
- Letter to Other County Boards of Elections & Registration