2018 Georgia Midterms: A Microcosm of the War on Election Integrity

Georgia election, voters, sticker
Reading Time: 7 minutes

The crown jewel of our work in 2018 was the coverage of Georgia’s midterm election. Early on, WhoWhatWhy realized that the gubernatorial race and the issue of voter suppression would be national news, so we dedicated unprecedented (for us) resources to shine a light on the status of voting rights in the Peach State.

We wanted to show the impact that voter suppression has on tight races, while not overlooking other problems in Georgia, such as the use of voting machines without a paper trail. In addition, we not only covered the policies implemented by Georgia’s politicians, but also put a human face on the consequences of these policies.

The entire project was a resounding success. Once again we identified a crucial issue before the rest of the media did. And some of the world’s largest news outlets were compelled to follow our lead and cite our work.

Below, you will find some of the highlights of our coverage:


Greene County, Georgia, African American, couple, 1941

This African American couple going to town on a Saturday afternoon in Greene County, Georgia, in spring of 1941 lived under Jim Crow laws that inhibited their rights, including the right to vote. Photo credit: (Library of Congress)

Keeping Jim Crow Alive in Georgia With ‘Exact Match’

“Exact match” voter registration is a law enacted by the Republican-controlled Georgia state legislature; it carries on the infamous history of suppressing the African American vote in the Peach State.

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Georgia Absentee Ballot

Photo credit: WhoWhatWhy

Exclusive: High Rate of Absentee Ballot Rejection Reeks of Voter Suppression

A WhoWhatWhy investigation shows that a huge percentage of absentee ballots in a majority-minority county are getting rejected — and that at least some voters seem to be kept in the dark about it.

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voting machines, Georgia

Photo credit: Kate Walker, Jordan Wilkie, and Micah Eisen / WhoWhatWhy

Exclusive: WhoWhatWhy Finds Voting Machines Unguarded

Shocking video shows voting machines sitting in an unlocked room in a public place in Georgia’s Fulton County the day before early voting started.

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Stacey Abrams, Cory Booker, Marco Rubio, Brian Kemp

Stacey Abrams and US Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) (left). US Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Brian Kemp (right). Photo credit: Kate Walker / WhoWhatWhy

Propaganda or Foul Play? How Kemp and Abrams Supporters View Voter Suppression News

WhoWhatWhy attended recent campaign events for Georgia gubernatorial candidates Brian Kemp and Stacey Abrams. Talk about two different worldviews — and worlds!

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Stunning Revelation: Georgia Counties Fail to Report Number of Rejected Ballots

A state lawyer reveals that not all counties report the ballots they reject to the state — misleading the public and making it nearly impossible to know the real scope of the problem.

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electronic voting, Georgia

Voters cast ballots during early voting in Madison, Georgia. Photo credit: Timothy Pratt / WhoWhatWhy

Small County Bucks Kemp, Will Audit Midterms

Defying state officials, who are resisting all efforts to instill accountability into Georgia’s elections, one county — on its own — has decided to conduct a two-part audit of the midterms.

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US states, race, ethnicity, voter, registration, forms

Photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from EAC (PDF) and Brutal Deluxe / Wikimedia.

Asking Voters About Race: Helpful Tool or Roadmap for Suppression?

A small group of states, mostly in the South, have a question on their voter registration form about race/ethnicity. Why? And what effect does it have?

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computer security

Photo credit: pxhere / (CC0 1.0)

Exclusive: Georgia’s Voter Registration System Like ‘Open Bank Safe Door’

“Massive” vulnerabilities in Georgia’s online voter registration system have been discovered that allow anyone with minimal computer expertise to access and change the private information of Peach State voters and thereby compromise the upcoming midterm elections.

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Georgia, Secretary of State, Brian Kemp

After election security advocates notified Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office of a vulnerability, he released this statement asserting Georgia Democrats tried to hack the system. Photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from Georgia Secretary of State and US Senate / Wikimedia

Kemp’s Aggressive Gambit to Distract From Election Security Crisis

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, battling in a close race to become governor, is pushing back against new reports of election vulnerabilities — uncovered by WhoWhatWhy — distracting the media and voters. He’s charging those who reported the danger with… being the danger.

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immigration, USCIS

USCIS office in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo credit: Gulbenk / Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0)

‘Noncitizens’ in Georgia: Are They Really Trying to Vote?

Brian Kemp’s campaign says noncitizens are trying to vote. WhoWhatWhy examined his own data and it does not back him up.

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Brian Kemp and His Staff Caught in a String of Falsehoods

In response to WhoWhatWhy’s exclusive story on vulnerabilities in Georgia’s voter registration system, Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office has made unsubstantiated claims and omitted inconvenient truths about the security of that system. Here is new information on the risks.

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Georgia, absentee ballots

Photo credit: Jordan Wilkie / WhoWhatWhy

79,784 Requested Mail-In Ballots Have Not Been Counted in Georgia

More than 79,700 people — that we know of — who tried to vote early by mail-in ballot have either not returned their mail-in ballot, had their ballot rejected, or had their ballot application rejected, and have not yet cast a vote.

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Gwinnett County, Georgia, Elections Office

The Gwinnett County Elections Office was full to overflowing ahead of its 2 PM meeting on Tuesday to certify the county’s votes. A judge’s order to count several hundred ballots that had previously been rejected forced the county to delay certification until Thursday at 5 PM. Photo credit: Jordan Wilkie / WhoWhatWhy

Chaos, Lack of Transparency Mar Vote Count in Georgia

After 10 days of court battles and Gwinnett County Board of Elections and Registration meetings, vote counting draws to a close — but questions remain about who gets counted, and why.

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Diebold, voting machine, voting card

To vote in person in Georgia, voters have their ballot information downloaded onto a yellow card. That card is then inserted into the Diebold voting machine, the ballot appears on the screen, and the vote can be cast. Errors are common in this system. When Brian Kemp, Republican governor-elect who was also the secretary of state at the time, tried to vote, his initial voter card was rejected as “invalid.” Photo credit: Jason Riedy / Flickr CC BY 2.0

Georgia Runoff Will Likely ‘Contaminate’ Voting Machines As Evidence

A WhoWhatWhy investigation shows that, for the last 16 years, Georgia has either been ignoring or misinterpreting one of its own rules on storing election data.

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Sarah Riggs Amico, Geoff Duncan

An election integrity nonprofit has filed suit to challenge the outcome of Georgia’s lieutenant governor’s race between former Democratic candidate Sarah Riggs Amico (left) and Republican candidate Geoff Duncan (right). Photo credit: Sara for Georgia and Jeremy Harwell / Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Georgia Lawsuit May Allow Rare Glimpse Into Its Elections

An election integrity group is challenging the results in Georgia’s race for lieutenant governor. If successful, the election will be re-run using a more secure voting system — paper ballots.

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John Barrow, Brad Raffensperger

John Barrow, Democratic candidate for Georgia secretary of state (left). Brad Raffensperger, Republican candidate for Georgia secretary of state (right). Photo credit: Adapted by WhoWhatWhy from US Congress / Wikimedia, Nydia Tisdale / YouTube (Creative Commons Attribution license – reuse allowed), and Cbroce / Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

Will Kemp’s Successor Continue Georgia’s Voter Suppression Legacy?

Georgia’s Governor-elect Brian Kemp used his position as secretary of state to influence who gets to vote in his state. Next week, Georgia will decide who will follow in his footsteps and whether the mess he left behind will be cleaned up.

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Georgia, voter suppression

Photo credit: Kate C. Walker / WhoWhatWhy

When Voter Suppression Goes Local…

In majority-minority Hancock County, Georgia, the local election board — dominated by white members — tried to disenfranchise many African American voters and almost got away with it. Where else is this happening?

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James Edwards

James Edwards of Lawrenceville, Georgia, had to get a new absentee ballot when the Gwinnett County Voter Registration and Elections Office rejected his ballot — claiming it lacked a signature. Photo credit: Kate Walker / WhoWhatWhy.

Meet Georgia Veteran Worried His Vote Won’t Count

James Edwards is a veteran with mobility issues — so voting with an absentee ballot seemed natural. But he’s just one of many voters whose ballot was rejected for a reason that he believes isn’t right.

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Georgia, Spelman College, voting

Spelman College students Ciara Smith (left) and Niya Ray. Photo credit: Kate C. Walker / WhoWhatWhy

How Knowing Your Rights Can Stop Disenfranchisement

Two Georgia college students share their experience of voting for the first time — and their potential disenfranchisement had they not known better.


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