Group faces federal complaint over Georgia election work

Credit: Curtis Compton/AJC

Credit: Curtis Compton/AJC

A Texas group that challenged the eligibility of hundreds of thousands of Georgia voters faces a federal election complaint.

True the Vote worked with Republican Party officials across Georgia to challenge the eligibility of voters in dozens of counties ahead of the January runoff election. The Federal Election Commission complaint says True the Vote also provided a voter hotline, signature verification training, absentee drop box monitoring and other support to the Georgia Republican Party.

The complaint — filed Wednesday by the Campaign Legal Center Action and Common Cause Georgia — alleges that True the Vote’s services constituted illegal campaign contributions.

“True the Vote stated publicly that it was coordinating its election activities with the Georgia Republican Party, and as a result, both violated federal campaign finance law,” said Brendan Fischer, director of federal reform for the Campaign Legal Center Action.

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True the Vote Director Catherine Engelbrecht said there’s nothing illegal about working with parties on election integrity issues. She said True the Vote also offered its services to the Democratic Party but received no response.

Georgia Republican Party Executive Director Stewart Bragg dismissed the complaint as “ridiculous.”

“We used educational materials on ballot security that were available to anyone,” Bragg said. “If there is any illegal coordination going on, it is Common Cause coordinating with the Democrats to file baseless FEC complaints.”

The complaint is the latest legal challenge to True the Vote’s election efforts in Georgia.

In December, the group Fair Fight filed a federal lawsuit seeking to stop True the Vote from challenging the eligibility of more than 364,000 Georgia voters. The names of those voters appeared in a national change-of-address database, indicating they may have moved and were not eligible to vote in the January runoff election.

Most counties dismissed the challenges, noting the national change-of-address data is unreliable and cannot by itself be used to determine whether someone is eligible to vote. Some counties proceeded with challenges, but they found only a few dozen illegitimate voters.

In the lawsuit, a federal judge expressed “grave concerns” about True the Vote’s efforts but rejected Fair Fight’s request for a temporary injunction halting the voting challenges.

True the Vote has filed a counterclaim in that lawsuit, saying Fair Fight sought to illegally stop its efforts to ensure the integrity of the election. The lawsuit is still pending in U.S. District Court in Gainesville.