Fifty-three allegedly forged voter applications are being referred to the state Attorney General’s Office for possible prosecution, a decision by the State Elections Board that effectively closes the Secretary of State Office’s 2014 fraud investigation involving an attention-grabbing registration drive by the New Georgia Project. The unanimous vote Wednesday came as the case’s lead investigator said he found no wrongdoing by the group, which was founded by then-state House Democratic leader Stacey Abrams to increase the number of minorities on voting rolls. It allows Attorney General Chris Carr to decide whether to prosecute those involved: 14 people that investigator Russell Lewis said essentially acted as independent contractors registering new voters.
“If they did good work one day, they were invited back the next,” said Lewis, who works in the Georgia Secretary of State Office. “All denied having submitted false documentation,” he said, although investigators had copies of documents that identified the forms they turned in by using transmittal sheets signed by each canvasser.
Wednesday’s action provided little drama compared with the fight from three years ago, when the project’s months-long effort devolved into day-to-day accusations of voter fraud, counteraccusations of voter suppression and a lawsuit won by Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp over allegations that he and local elections officials misplaced thousands of registration forms submitted by the project.