Georgia’s top elections official gave a nonprofit group that has registered more than 85,000 minority voters until tomorrow to produce every record it has, in what critics say is an effort to suppress minority voting in November’s tight race for the U.S. Senate. Secretary of State Brian Kemp, a Republican, is accusing the New Georgia Project of fraud in its drive to reach the more than 800,000 minority Georgians not on the rolls. Kemp served a subpoena on organizers a day after first lady Michelle Obama urged on the effort at an Atlanta appearance. Kemp spokesman Jared Thomas said the office received fraud reports from several county elections offices. “We had clear evidence,” he said. “We need to know the totality of it.”
New Georgia founder Stacey Abrams, 40, a Democratic legislative leader and consultant for Senate candidate Michelle Nunn, said she doesn’t know what’s behind the allegations about the campaign, in which paid canvassers solicit applications. “We were compelled by law to turn in every form we collected,” she said. “If there was a mistake, someone should have told us. This is not an issue of fraud. It’s very inflammatory.”
The outcome of the dispute could help decide which party controls the U.S. Senate, where Democrats now hold 53 of the 100 seats. Voter fraud allegations have been a Republican theme since at least 2008 when party members accused the now-defunct community group Acorn of wrongdoing during a widespread registration campaign. Legislatures in 14 states have passed laws since 2010 requiring photo identification at the polls to protect against fraud, according to an analysis by The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University College of Law.