Right-wing extremists are working to purge voter rolls in Georgia

Eligible voters are being purged off of national voter registries by MAGA-inspired “conservative activists.” These so-called activists are targeting young voters, people of color, and homeless voters by filing hundreds of claims challenging individual registrations.

In their attempts to level the playing field in the upcoming 2024 elections, CBS reports, conservatives like Gail Lee, who has filed around 500 challenges on her own, claim they are fighting against the potential for voter fraud. But as CBS found, the people being challenged by people like Lee include barbershop manager James McWhorter of DeKalb County, Georgia.

Lee saw that McWhorter’s registration included a commercial address (the barbershop), and filed her challenge. “I didn’t know Gail Lee from a can of paint,” McWhorter told CBS. But luckily he received notice of the challenge and could defend himself. It turns out that the Gulf War veteran had registered to vote at a point in his life when he was unhoused. “My friends, my family never knew I was displaced, never knew I was homeless.” McWhorter would sleep in a barbershop chair after work.

ProPublica recently reported on this anti-democratic phenomenon with a piece detailing almost 100,000 challenges in Georgia since the 2020 election, which were filed by only six conservative activists. The key is that after the 2020 election, Georgia’s Republican-controlled state Legislature passed SB 202, which, along with other racist and inhumane attempts at voter suppression, allowed citizens to file unlimited challenges against anyone in their county.

The Stacey Abrams-founded organization Fair Fight logged at least 92,000 voter registration challenges in 2022 in 15 of Georgia’s 159 counties, including seven of the 10 most populous counties:

Fair Fight’s data also suggests that voters of color and younger Georgians may be disproportionately affected by mass challenges. In Cobb County, the group was able to examine voter registration data — which includes a voter’s race, ethnicity and age — for most of the challenges, and found that both demographic groups were overrepresented in the challenges.

Lee told CBS News that she became motivated to act after her preferred candidate, Donald Trump, lost what she believes was a rigged election in 2020. Shortly after the election, Lee says she attended a Conservative Partnership Institute conference in Atlanta, which Republican strategist and Big Lie collaborator Cleta Mitchell attended. Inspired, Lee began volunteering to painstakingly go through voter rolls and try to prove election fraud.

Lee seems to believe that being a Christian conservative means it’s okay to baselessly harass American citizens she doesn’t agree with. “I believe it’s what God wants me to do. He knows what’s right and what’s wrong and there’s things that need to be fixed in the voter rolls.” I guess this is one of those mysterious ways in which God works.

Of course McWhorter sees things differently. He told CBS, “It was hurtful that she would do something like that. You’re trying to put your foot on someone else’s neck.”

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There has been a ton of coverage in recent weeks over a streak of poor 2024 polling for Democrats and Target Smart’s Tom Bonier joins us to help us separate the wheat from the chaff. We talk about what to take from these polls and how to balance them against the much more positive election results we’ve seen this year. We also discuss how early voting data continues to evolve and how Sen. Sherrod Brown’s campaign will use Ohio’s recent abortion and marijuana referendums to find new persuadable voters next year.

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