Minority voter registration was one of the most hyped Democratic strategies of the 2014 Georgia election cycle. These new voters, it was presumed, would vote for Democratic candidates, and allow Michelle Nunn, Jason Carter and down-ballot Democratic candidates to prevail last November. In a MSNBC op-ed published in June 2014, former NAACP chairman Benjamin Jealous estimated that registering 60% of the previously unregistered black voting age population would be enough for the Democrats to win. Registering 60% of black, Asian and Hispanic non-voters would be enough to guarantee it.
The most visible voter registration effort was the New Georgia Project, an effort by House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams to register more minorities. Using paid canvassers, the group claimed it registered thousands of voters, but reports of fraud prompted Secretary of State Brian Kemp to file a lawsuit against the organization. As the voter registration deadline approached in October, the NGP claimed that 40,000 voter registration applications turned in by them had not been processed by local elections offices. And as election day approached with speculation that the senate and governor’s races could be extremely close, there was talk of post-election lawsuits.
Of course, the Republicans won the election by fairly wide margins, and memories of the New Georgia Project started to fade with the approach of the 2015 legislative session. That is, until Max Blau of Creative Loafing published his extensive investigation into the operations of the NGP earlier this week. But Blau’s essay is more than a postmortem of the voter registration effort; it is also an examination of Minority Leader Stacey Abrams’s actions leading up to the election. Read more