New Election Law Enables Baseless Challenges Against Early Voters in Georgia
Under the state’s new Election Integrity Act (SB 202), Georgia citizens can challenge a voter’s eligibility on the state’s voting rolls an unlimited number of times—and for any reason.
Right-wing groups are exploiting this rule and have already organized thousands of voter challenges across the state. In Gwinnett County alone, they filed over 37,000 unfounded voter challenges, completely inundating election workers with dead-end, untrue claims of voter fraud to investigate.
Though the Gwinnett County Board of Elections ultimately voted to dismiss these challenges, thousands more are still active across the state, complicating the election process for voters, poll workers and election officials.
“SB202, this Election Integrity [Act], has highlighted that folks can now do unlimited challenges,” said Butler. “And though people have always been able to challenge the voting rolls, this again creates a problem and creates distrust and is ultimately trying to limit who has access to the ballot,” said Helen Butler, Executive Director of the People’s Agenda.
How These Challenges Affect Voters
Voters across the state of Georgia are showing up to the polls, only to be told their freedom to vote has been challenged and that they can only cast a provisional ballot.
This is what happened to Jennifer Jones, a Morehouse School of Medicine PhD student, when she showed up to her precinct in Fulton county, Georgia, to vote early. A poll worker told her she would be unable to cast a regular ballot because an anonymous person had challenged validity as a voter. Though the poll worker did not know and could not tell Jones why she had been challenged or by who—Jones was told that she would have to cast a provisional ballot.
Voters cast their votes during Georgia early voting period.
Jones, frustrated and distrustful of Georgia’s new election policies, chose to reject the provisional ballot, instead contacting election protection organizations like Fair Fight and Election Protection Project for help fighting the baseless challenge against her right to vote as an American citizen.
From these resources, Jones learned that countless other voters across the state were facing the same obstacles after the influx in voter challenges under SB 202. And that while there are protections for people like her, miscommunications were inhibiting their ability to help.
Fair Fight and the Election Protection Project helped Jones find out that in the face of voter challenges, counties are supposed to work in favor of the challenged voter, granting poll workers the ability to verify a voter’s residence at the precinct when provided with documentation of the voter’s address or by having the voter sign a residency affirmation form.
Jones plans to use this protection to vote in the 2022 election.
“My grandmother marched with Dr Martin Luther King; my family fought for this,” said Jones. “I am the next generation that she was fighting for, and I am not about to let up. I will not risk getting to cast my vote. I will not stop fighting, and I will not be complacent in the difficulty of this process,” said Jones.