Tuesday, 21 Mar 2023

Early voters in Georgia face obstacles under states new election law

Early voters in Georgia face obstacles under states new election law

Early voters in Georgia face obstacles under states new election law

Jennifer Jones, a Morehouse School of Medicine PhD student, showed up to her precinct in Fulton county, Georgia, on the second day of early voting for the midterm elections. She was excited to cast her ballot for her chosen candidates in the gubernatorial and Senate races, Stacey Abrams and Senator Raphael Warnock. However, when she reached the check-in station at the polling site, she was informed that she would be unable to cast a regular ballot because her validity as a voter was challenged.

"When I handed in my ID, the poll worker said I was being challenged," said Jones. "They said I had to complete a provisional ballot, but I wasn't really comfortable doing that, so I didn't get to cast my ballot that day."

Under the state's new Election Integrity Act, Georgia citizens can challenge a voter's eligibility on the state's voting rolls an unlimited number of times. Right-wing groups, spurred by baseless claims that the 2020 election was rife with voter fraud, have mounted thousands of organized challenges across the state, putting even more pressure on the election process for voters, poll workers and election officials. While most have been dismissed already, more challenges cropped up ahead of early voting.

In most cases, voters like Jones don't know why their status is being challenged in the first place, causing even more confusion.

"The poll worker didn't tell me why I was being challenged, even after calling someone else for assistance," said Jones. "They just kept telling me I would have to vote with a provisional ballot."

Georgia voters turned out in record numbers for the first week of early voting, casting their ballots in the two critical elections, the gubernatorial and Senate races. However, as the election progresses, the impact of Georgia's new voting laws continues to unfold. Election and voter protection organizations across Georgia have been preparing for moments like this, working to educate voters on what to do if they experience issues when voting.

"I felt discouraged, but I knew I needed to reach out to someone for help and knew I could call Fair Fight and get help," said Jones.

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