Last year, Georgia’s midterm elections were riddled with the controversy that sparked protests and even a lawsuit over voter suppression. The criticism has now drawn the attention of the U.S. House Oversight Committee which has launched a probe into the contentious election cycle, seeking information surrounding the “unprecedented challenges” that Georgia voters faced.
According to WSBTV, House Oversight Committee Chair Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), penned an eight-page letter on Wednesday, citing the concern of the committee over reports of the challenges or barriers that Georgians had while attempting to vote.
“The Committee is particularly concerned by reports that Georgians faced unprecedented challenges with registering to vote and significant barriers to casting their votes during your tenure as Secretary of State and during the 2018 election,” Cummings wrote.
The letter demanded the release of a long list of documents, including those related to voter roll purges; voting machine problems, with particular focus on Cobb, DeKalb and Fulton counties; documents surrounding current Gov. Brian Kemp’s status as a then-candidate in the gubernatorial race as well as the then Secretary of State, who is tasked with overseeing elections; and documents concerning a Nov. 3, 2018 allegation that Democrats tried to hack Georgia’s voter registration system.
According to the report, current Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger promised to cooperate with the committee probe, stating, “I think that when we get the information to them, they’ll see that Georgia has been doing a great job in so many areas.”
However, Kemp, around whom much of the controversy surrounded, was less agreeable about the inquiry.
“My reaction to that is they need to quit playing politics up there,” the governor said, according to the news station. “I would urge them to do the real work of this country.”
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), who is a member of the House Oversight Committee said that red flags raised by Stacey Abrams, who narrowly lost to Kemp in the gubernatorial race, drew the Committee’s attention to Georgia.
Kemp, who, again, at the time was the Secretary of State and whose office was in charge of elections and voter registration was accused of sitting on more than 53,000 applications, most of which belonged to Black voters. This was due to Georgia’s “exact match” registration verification process, requiring the name on the voter registration application to be an “exact match” to the information on file with the Georgia Department of Diver Services or the Social Security Administration, making errors as innocuous as a dropped hyphen in a last name resulting in a halt in the application process.
Some 107,000 voters were also purged from voter rolls due to the state’s “use it or lose it” policy that insists that citizens vote, or be denied the right that they were otherwise perfectly eligible for.
“We are glad to see our leaders recognizing the magnitude of problems Georgians faced in 2018…Every resource should be leveraged to unearth the root causes of these problems and find solutions to ensure all citizens have their fundamental right to vote,” Lauren Groh-Wargo, the CEO of the voting rights organization Fair Fight, which was founded by Abrams, said in a statement to WSBTV.
The committee has given Georgia until March 20 to hand over the requested documents.