U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson, a Republican from west Georgia who has raised concerns in the past about election fraud, voted three times this year in Troup County. But Ferguson no longer lives at the address where he’s registered to vote after he sold his house in April and moved in with his wife two counties away.
It’s illegal in Georgia for voters to cast a ballot in a county where they don’t have a residence.
Ferguson’s congressional website says that he lives with his wife in The Rock, 63 miles away from his former home in West Point. Voter registration records show that he never changed his address to his new home in Pike County as required under state law before voting.
Ferguson’s spokesman, Brian Piper, defended the congressman’s votes in this year’s elections but didn’t respond to questions about why he continued to vote in Troup County after property tax records show he sold his house there.
“Congressman Ferguson, previous mayor of West Point and lifelong resident, was registered to vote in his hometown,” Piper said in a statement. “Congressman Ferguson is currently in the process of transitioning his residency to his new home in Pike County.”
Piper did not respond to follow-up questions asking him to clarify when Ferguson moved to Pike County and why he apparently voted in Troup County even after changing addresses, perhaps in violation of state law.
Ferguson also did not respond to calls and text messages sent to his cellphone.
The congressman voted in person in Troup County during early voting for this year’s primary, general election and U.S. Senate runoff, according to publicly available voter records.
Ferguson’s new address is still within the 3rd Congressional District he represents, but it’s outside other local districts that would have been connected with his old address such as state House and state Senate districts. These races are only supposed to be open to voters who reside within the district lines.
The secretary of state’s office hasn’t opened an investigation into whether Ferguson voted illegally because it hasn’t received a complaint, spokesman Mike Hassinger said. He said the secretary of state’s office investigates all credible claims of voting irregularities.
Information that casts doubt on Ferguson’s eligibility to vote in Troup County is available through public property records, address information, registration data and voter history files reviewed by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Ferguson was one of seven Republican congressmen from Georgia who signed a brief supporting a lawsuit by Texas officials who claimed there were irregularities during the 2020 presidential election — which their candidate Donald Trump lost — and sought to throw out the results. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to consider the lawsuit.
Ferguson didn’t join the majority of House Republicans who voted to throw out electoral votes for Democrat Joe Biden in contested states during the tallying that continued after the riot in the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. But he has criticized Democrats’ efforts to overhaul federal election laws partially in response to criticism surrounding the 2020 election.
Donald Sherman, who serves as senior vice president and chief counsel for the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said the news of Ferguson’s voting discrepancy fits a troubling pattern from the congressman.
“It’s, frankly, unsurprising that given his hostility to reform following the 2020 election and the insurrection that he is now undermining the electoral process in his personal capacity — in his own way — in addition to his official capacity,” Sherman said.
Ferguson has previously emphasized the importance of “election integrity” and defended Georgia’s voting law passed last year, according to a March 2021 column published by the AJC.
“While Republicans at every level of government are working to bolster our electoral systems to prevent voter fraud and ensure election integrity, Democrats are working to expand and codify existing loopholes to exploit it,” he wrote.
Ferguson, who was first elected to the House in 2018, won reelection last month with 69% of the vote against Democrat Val Almonord.
He served as the House Republicans’ chief deputy whip for the past several years but recently lost his bid to become the House whip for the term that begins in January. He also serves on the powerful tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.
Under state law and court cases, voters aren’t allowed to vote in their previous county, legislative district or voting precinct if they’ve moved more than 30 days before an election. Georgia voters are required to update their registrations after moving to reflect their new residence and districts.
Ferguson is still registered to vote at the Troup County address of the house he sold in April, according to election records as of Tuesday.
The State Election Board has the power to levy fines of up to $5,000 per violation of election laws, but previous cases have resulted in light penalties.
The board issued a public reprimand and a cease-and-desist order in September to a voter who lived in Baldwin County but voted in Hancock County.
Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC