Newspaper: Georgia congressman may have illegally voted

Dec 21, 2022, 2:14 AM | Updated: 4:24 pm

ATLANTA (AP) — A Georgia congressman voted three times this year in a county where he no longer lives, possibly violating state law, state records show.

Republican U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson’s congressional website shows he lives with his wife in The Rock, 63 miles away from his former home in West Point. Voter registration records show that he never changed his Troup County address to his new home in Pike County as required under state law before voting in this year’s primary, general election and U.S. Senate runoff.

It’s illegal in Georgia for voters to cast a ballot in a county where they don’t have a residence, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Information that casts doubt on Ferguson’s eligibility to vote in Troup County is available through public property records, address information, registration data and voter history files reviewed by the newspaper.

Ferguson’s spokesman, Brian Piper, defended the congressman’s votes but didn’t respond to questions from the newspaper about why he continued to vote in Troup County after property tax records show he sold his house there in April.

“Congressman Ferguson, previous mayor of West Point and lifelong resident, was registered to vote in his hometown,” Piper said in a statement. “Congressman Ferguson is currently in the process of transitioning his residency to his new home in Pike County.”

Piper did not respond when asked to clarify when Ferguson moved and why he apparently voted in Troup County even after changing addresses, perhaps in violation of state law. Ferguson also did not respond to calls and text messages sent to his cellphone, the newspaper said.

Ferguson’s new address is within the 3rd Congressional District he represents, but it’s outside other local districts that would have been connected with his old address such as state House and state Senate districts.

The secretary of state’s office has not opened an investigation into whether Ferguson voted illegally because it hasn’t received a complaint, spokesman Mike Hassinger said.

The State Election Board has the power to levy fines of up to $5,000 per violation of election laws, but previous cases have resulted in light penalties.

Ferguson was one of seven Republican congressmen from Georgia who signed a brief supporting a lawsuit by Texas officials who claimed there were irregularities during the 2020 presidential election lost by their candidate, Donald Trump, and sought to throw out the results. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to consider the lawsuit.

Donald Sherman, who serves as senior vice president and chief counsel for the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, said the news of Ferguson’s voting discrepancy fits a troubling pattern from the congressman.

“It’s, frankly, unsurprising that given his hostility to reform following the 2020 election and the insurrection that he is now undermining the electoral process in his personal capacity — in his own way — in addition to his official capacity,” Sherman said.

Ferguson has previously emphasized the importance of “election integrity” and defended Georgia’s voting law passed last year, according to a March 2021 column published by the AJC.

“While Republicans at every level of government are working to bolster our electoral systems to prevent voter fraud and ensure election integrity, Democrats are working to expand and codify existing loopholes to exploit it,” he wrote.

Ferguson, who was first elected to the House in 2018, won reelection last month with 69% of the vote against Democrat Val Almonord. He served as the House Republicans’ chief deputy whip for the past several years but recently lost his bid to become the House whip for the term that begins in January. He also serves on the powerful tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.

As of Tuesday, Ferguson is still registered to vote at the Troup County address of the house he sold in April, according to election records.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Newspaper: Georgia congressman may have illegally voted