The efforts spanned Georgia's political spectrum. Many of them were planned ahead of a voter fraud registration investigation begun earlier this month by Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp. Yet as Georgians face an Oct. 6 deadline to register ahead of the Nov. 4 general election, it is clear some groups will use the investigation as a rallying cry to boost their numbers.
“You cannot stop the vote,” said Deborah Scott, the executive director of Georgia Stand-Up.
“We want to make sure our people understand that voting is fundamental to democracy,” said Helen Butler, the executive director of the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda, which was among more than a dozen advocacy groups kicking off voter drives at the state Capitol, including the Georgia NAACP, the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials and the Asian American Legal Advocacy Center of Georgia.
Overall, more than 51,540 newly eligible Georgia voters have registered since Aug. 1, although that number excludes registrants whose voter applications have yet to be processed by local counties or are under investigation. Counties including Fulton and Muscogee are also still working through thousands of forms already filed with their offices, including some of the more than 85,000 the New Georgia Project says it turned in ahead of the secretary of state's investigation.
More will come ahead of a fall ballot that features hotly contested races for governor as well as a U.S. Senate seat. Many of the groups say the efforts are part of a year-round focus: “The league actually looks at it all the time,” said Elizabeth Poythress, president of the nonpartisan League of Women Voters of Georgia, which helped host a voter drive Tuesday at downtown Atlanta’s Five Points MARTA station. Poythress’ organization has also worked with other groups to set up booths at naturalization ceremonies for newly minted citizens to register.
“In our experience, you can add Georgians to the voter rolls and build a stronger party by focusing on the communities that your staff and volunteers call home,” Georgia GOP spokesman Ryan Mahoney said, noting the party decentralizes that effort at its 14 satellite offices throughout the state.
It also gets a boost from affiliates such as the Gwinnett Young Republicans, which held a registration drive Tuesday at Georgia Gwinnett College that prompted enough interest to begin talk of rechartering a campus College Republicans chapter.