Election board investigates Warnock and New Georgia Project

U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock was named as part of a case the State Election Board voted o move forward on Wednesday involving the New Georgia Project. Warnock was chairman of the organization's board when a secretary of state office's investigator says the New Georgia Project hand-delivered 1,268 voter registration applications to the Gwinnett County elections office beyond the time allowed. Ben Gray for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
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U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock was named as part of a case the State Election Board voted o move forward on Wednesday involving the New Georgia Project. Warnock was chairman of the organization's board when a secretary of state office's investigator says the New Georgia Project hand-delivered 1,268 voter registration applications to the Gwinnett County elections office beyond the time allowed. Ben Gray for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Credit: Ben Gray

The State Election Board voted Wednesday to move forward with a case against U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock and the New Georgia Project based on an allegation that the organization was slow to deliver over 1,200 voter registration applications to election officials in 2019.

The board referred the case to the attorney general’s office for further investigation and potential prosecution.

Warnock, a Democrat elected last month to the U.S. Senate, is named as a respondent in the case because he was listed as the CEO for the New Georgia Project at the time. The organization has said its corporate document filings with the state misidentified Warnock as its CEO when his actual position was board chairman.

New Georgia Project CEO Nse Ufot said the State Election Board meeting was the first time she had heard about the allegations.

“We have not received any information on this matter from the secretary or any other Georgia official, so we will have no further comment on the investigation,” Ufot said.

Warnock’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

Representatives of the New Georgia Project hand-delivered 1,268 voter registration applications to the Gwinnett County elections office beyond the time allowed, according to an investigator for Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

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State election rules require voter registration organizations to submit completed applications within 10 days after they were received from the voter.

The State Election Board submitted the case on a 3-0 vote, with the board’s lone Democrat, David Worley, recusing himself. Raffensperger is the chairman of the board but usually doesn’t vote except to break ties.

State Election Board members prepare for an emergency hearing at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education in Athens, Ga., on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. The hearing will decide whether Athens election officials broke state laws when they switched to paper ballots filled out by hand. [Photo/Austin Steele for the Atlanta Journal Constitution)
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State Election Board members prepare for an emergency hearing at the Georgia Center for Continuing Education in Athens, Ga., on Wednesday, March 11, 2020. The hearing will decide whether Athens election officials broke state laws when they switched to paper ballots filled out by hand. [Photo/Austin Steele for the Atlanta Journal Constitution)

The allegation is the latest point of conflict between Republican election officials and the New Georgia Project, a voter registration organization founded by Democrat Stacey Abrams in 2014.

In a prior case alleging contractors for the New Georgia Project forged signatures and submitted incomplete forms, the attorney general’s office hasn’t brought charges in the 3½ years since it was referred by the State Election Board. That case remains open.

In November, Raffensperger accused the New Georgia Project of sending voter registration applications to people in New York City.

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Ufot has said that the organization didn’t mail voter registration applications to New York. Instead, it sent postcards to volunteers who could then mail them to potential Georgia voters with information about how to register online.

Warnock resigned as chairman of the New Georgia Project’s board on Jan. 28, 2020.

Republican Attorney General Chris Carr’s office will now investigate the case and decide whether to bring charges or seek fines against Warnock and the New Georgia Project.