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Unproven Voter Fraud Claims Target Atlanta Homeless, An Often Disenfranchised Group

A person casts their vote during Georgia's Senate runoff elections on Tuesday in Atlanta.
A person casts their vote during Georgia's Senate runoff elections on Tuesday in Atlanta.
Credit Brynn Anderson / Associated Press

One of the recent unproven claims of voter fraud in Georgia elections targeted Atlanta’s homeless.

But rather than expose illegal activity, the stunt from Project Veritas instead revealed a voting system that pays little attention to people without housing.

The videos the right-wing media outlet released on Twitter earlier this week are typical of its work. They show a couple of covert interviews with homeless service provider employees outside their homes. One appears to be in a restaurant. The footage is shaky with choppy edits.

In the videos, Project Veritas makes the claim that these nonprofits are wrongly using their address to register quote “countless” people to vote.

What the group doesn’t explore is the reason homeless agencies do this.

Georgia law requires voters to register with an address, which homeless people don’t have. So providers allow their clients to write theirs on the voter application.

According to Myrna Perez, director of the voting rights program at New York University’s Brennan Center, the allegations speak to a failure in election policies.

“We aren’t good about accounting for the real live instability that comes from being unhoused,” Perez said.

People with unstable housing have the right to vote. Perez said there’s no question about that.

But this country often doesn’t make it clear how these voters are supposed to exercise that right without a fixed address.

And that leaves them vulnerable to claims of fraud.

Perez said she knew of another unsuccessful effort in Michigan where someone intended to challenge voters who received eviction notices.

“And this all comes down to the fact that we are not clear enough in our laws,” she said.

She said states need to outline practices for people without addresses. That’s not spelled out in Georgia’s voting rules.

In a past interview, Fulton County’s former chief of registration said that homeless people need to list where they sleep as their residential address. If necessary, they can point out the location on a map.

In order to maintain their voting status, though, they must also provide a mailing address. Returned mail could lead the state to purge their registration.

WABE has reported before that homeless voters are especially susceptible to removal under Georgia’s voter purge law. In 2017, the state canceled nearly 900 votes from addresses tied to homeless agencies.

The services providers in the Project Veritas videos, Central Outreach and Advocacy downtown and Emmaus House in Peoplestown, did not comment.

The Secretary of State’s office also did not provide a statement.

Fulton County’s board of election wasn’t aware of the claims but said that it was glad to work with these homeless agencies to register people to vote according to the law.