On Oct. 9, the Associated Press ran a major story about the Georgia gubernatorial election in which it claimed Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp had placed a large number of minority voters on a “pending voter” list that made them ineligible to vote. A subsequent report claims Kemp disenfranchised over 300,000 voters by canceling their voter registrations. Both stories are wrong and grossly distort what happened. As a former elections lawyer and as someone who has reviewed the independent audit of the pending voters that the secretary of state authorized, let me correct the record.
Regarding pending voters, the Associated Press highlighted a lady named Marsha Appling-Nunez, claiming she was moved from an active voter file to the pending voter file because she spelled out her last name without her hyphen. According to the secretary of state’s office, the problem was not a legislative requirement for an “exact match” between Appling-Nunez’s driver’s license and voter file. The problem was that she had already registered to vote. So her second application, with the missing hyphen, went into the pending voter file pending verification of its duplication. She, like the other pending voters, could still show up on election day and vote.
In fact, there are 75,000 pending voters in Georgia out of seven million total registered voters. There are 9,224 pending because the voter registered before turning 18, but will turn 18 on or before election day. Kemp’s daughter is one of those. There were 2,935 who used a fake address, 3,393 who are non-citizens and 5,842 who are already registered. That leaves roughly 46,000 pending voters, not 53,000 as the Associated Press reported.
Of those 46,000, the secretary of state’s outside audit shows 75 percent submitted a voter registration form that had an erroneous Social Security number on it. There’s a punchline to this is that 11,024 of those came from a voter registration drive held in 2014 by the New Georgia Project, a nonprofit created by the current Democratic nominee for governor Stacey Abrams.
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In other words, 23 percent of the voters on the pending voter list originated from a Abrams voter drive in 2014 and those voters or the signature collectors themselves put down wrong Social Security information. In fact, a source I spoke with in the secretary of state’s office says they believe the individuals collecting the applications filled them out for the voters and they themselves, not the actual voter, wrote down the wrong information. More importantly, none of those voters has ever attempted to vote or correct the information, which raises the question of whether they are real people.
Then there is the issue of throwing people off the voter rolls. The process is an automated process and is only run in odd numbered years. Under Georgia law, if a person does not vote or have any contact with a local board of elections in a three year period, the secretary of state sends the voter a pre-paid return postcard the voter must return to verify he or she still lives at the address. If a voter does not respond, the secretary of state must wait four more years and then can cancel the voter’s registration. In other words, it is a seven year process of the voter neither voting nor having contact with voting officials.
It is not hard to find out any of this information. What is so disappointing is the national media ran with sensational claims and never bothered to verify the information.
Erick Erickson is host of Atlanta’s Evening News on WSB Radio.