Voter eligibility challenges dismissed in Cobb County

Credit: Natrice Miller / AJC

Credit: Natrice Miller / AJC

Challenges focused on missing apartment and dorm numbers

The Cobb County elections board on Monday quickly rejected challenges to the eligibility of 1,350 voters whose registrations are missing an apartment or unit number, many of whom are people of color and college students.

The board voted 4-1 to dismiss the challenges because they were based on lists of addresses, without detailed voter-by-voter information to prove each registration was invalid.

The decision came in response to Republican voters in Cobb County who used Georgia’s voting law to allege that inaccurate voter lists could lead to election fraud, though they presented no evidence of illegal votes. The law passed last year, Senate Bill 202, allows any Georgia voter to file challenges against an unlimited number of other voters within their county.

“This board wants to ensure that we have open, free elections that are fair, and obviously a fair election is one that only includes the opportunity to vote for valid residents of Cobb County,” said Tori Silas, chairwoman for the elections board. “The challengers have not met their burden.”

Tens of thousands of voter eligibility challenges have been filed by Republicans across Georgia, primarily in metro Atlanta. Most have been dismissed, but several hundred have been sustained.

Credit: Natrice Miller /

Credit: Natrice Miller /

Last week, the Gwinnett County elections board threw out roughly 22,000 voter challenges because they were primarily based on voters’ mailing addresses rather than more specific allegations that they were no longer eligible to vote in Georgia.

A Cobb resident who filed many of the challenges, Eugene Williams, told the board that without full addresses, he isn’t sure whether these registrations belong to real voters.

“You can’t go in your car and meet them or reach them,” Williams said. “It begs the question, do these people even exist necessarily? You don’t really know.”

Williams said he used an address lookup service to identify questionable addresses, and he said mail was undeliverable to addresses without apartment numbers.

But Silas said that a missing apartment number doesn’t always mean that an address is invalid. She said she used to live in a single-unit apartment that didn’t have a unit number.

The challenges that were dismissed Monday included students who live in dorms at Kennesaw State University and apartment complexes.

An analysis by the voting rights organization Fair Fight Action found that most of the challenges targeted Black voters and young voters. Both Black voters and young voters generally support Democratic candidates.

Georgia’s voting law allows voters to bring challenges to immediately question voter eligibility, but there’s also a more formal process for canceling registrations of voters who have moved away. Voters lose their registrations in Georgia after they don’t participate in elections for five years and then skip the next two general elections.

Federal law prohibits “systematic” registration cancellations within 90 days of an election, requiring a case-by-case examination of voter challenges.