Georgia authorities conducted an investigation after two election workers were fired for allegedly shredding voter registration forms, which is an act believed to have been motivated by a Republican-led investigation of the office that many critics deem as politically motivated.
On Monday, the heavily Democratic Fulton County announced the incident saying that the workers, who were with the Fulton County Board of Elections, were terminated on Friday. The decision was made after several other employees witnessed the two suspects shredding voter registration forms that were awaiting processing.
Shredded Voter Registration Forms
The suspect committed the crime prior to local elections that are scheduled in November, Richard Barron, the county elections director, said. Fulton County Commission Chairman Robb Pitts added that they asked the county district attorney and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to conduct inquiries regarding the incident.
However, Raffensperger was responsible for revealing the first allegations of shredded voter registration forms. The official issued a news release demanding the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate the matter he considered was related to "incompetence and malfeasance," the New York Times reported.
Preliminary information regarding the incident suggested that the suspects checked out batches of applications for processing. They were then believed to have destroyed some of the voter registration forms by shredding them. A statement released by the county revealed that the applications were received in the last two weeks.
Authorities did not immediately have information on whether or not the 300 voter registration forms involved in the incident were lost, county spokeswoman Jessica Corbitt said. The official added that processing a voter registration application involved entering the documents in the state system, updating them, and verifying the information. Corbitt noted that the verification part was being investigated if it was completed before the shredding.
The applications had no party affiliation because voters did not register by party in Georgia. "Elections are the most important function of our government. We have committed to transparency and integrity," Pitts said in a statement, Yahoo News reported.
New Voting Laws
The incident comes as new voting laws in Texas, Kansas, and Georgia are facing challenges in the courtroom over attempts to criminalize behavior around casting a ballot. The situation marks another crucial point in the legal battle over voting laws in the United States.
After the 2020 presidential elections that have been filled with accusations of fraud, dozens of states have passed new laws that either expanded or limited voting rules. The actions have resulted in election-related litigation but most voting laws have, until now, governed how election officials administer elections and did not involve any criminal penalties.
A few states in the country are pushing to impose criminal penalties for a broader range of activities that go far beyond traditional voter fraud. The proposals affect not only individual voters but also groups and election officials.
"That's not unheard of in the American past but it really strikes me as something of a new twist in laws of election administration," a professor at Harvard University's Kennedy School, Alex Keyssar, said, the Wall Street Journal reported.