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Georgia secretary of state opens investigation into voter registration groups

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) announced Monday he was opening an investigation into third-party voting groups that allegedly are encouraging people outside Georgia to register to vote in January's Senate runoff elections.

Raffensperger at a press conference named four groups he would be investigating: America Votes, Vote Forward, The New Georgia Project and Operation New Voter Registration Georgia.

“We have opened an investigation into a group called America Votes, who is sending absentee ballot applications to people at addresses where they have not lived since 1994,” said Raffensperger.

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In a statement to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, America Votes said it has mailed applications to those on the list of voters maintained by Raffensperger's office.

“We’re pleased that so many Georgians have already applied to vote by mail this election and will continue our work to make sure every voice is heard in January,” said the group.

Republican incumbent Sens. David PerdueDavid PerdueGeorgia Republican secretary of state hits Loeffler as 'weak,' 'fake Trumper' Warnock raises nearly M since January victory Georgia's top election official looks to shake political drama MORE and Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerGeorgia Republican secretary of state hits Loeffler as 'weak,' 'fake Trumper' Loeffler asks Georgia attorney general to investigate Raffensperger over 2020 election Former Rep. Doug Collins won't enter Georgia Senate race MORE will face Democrats Jon OssoffJon OssoffSenate panel deadlocks in vote on sweeping elections bill Senate descends into hours-long fight over elections bill Georgia senators introduce measure allowing voters to have access to water while waiting MORE and the Rev. Raphael WarnockRaphael WarnockGeorgia senators introduce measure allowing voters to have access to water while waiting Cruz outspending other senators on Facebook ads: report Democrats cool on Crist's latest bid for Florida governor MORE in Georgia on Jan. 5. The outcome of the two races will determine which party controls the Senate. 

Raffensperger accused Vote Forward of attempting to register a dead woman in Alabama as a voter in Georgia, The New Georgia Project of sending registration forms to people in New York and Operation New Voter Registration Georgia of telling college students to temporarily change their residency to Georgia.

“Voting in Georgia when you are not a resident of Georgia is a felony, and encouraging college kids to commit felonies with no regard for what [it] might mean for them is despicable. These third-party groups have a responsibility to not encourage illegal voting. If they do so, they will be held responsible,” said Raffensperger.

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The state’s voting system manager, Gabriel Sterling, said he assumes the groups will claim those incidents as legitimate or accidental.

“But that’s why you investigate,” said Sterling.

According to Sterling, 940,000 Georgians have already requested absentee ballots for the runoff elections, while 1.3 million Georgians requested absentee ballots for the Nov. 3 election.

The results of the presidential election in Georgia have been repeatedly attacked by President TrumpDonald TrumpWarren says Republican party 'eating itself and it is discovering that the meal is poisonous' More than 75 Asian, LGBTQ groups oppose anti-Asian crime bill McConnell says he's 'great admirer' of Liz Cheney but mum on her removal MORE and his allies.

Raffensperger, who said he voted for Trump, has stood by the results and has shot back at claims that Georgia's voting system allowed for a fraudulent result. So far, an audit of the voting machines and a hand recount have been conducted, both reaffirming President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden says Beau's assessment of first 100 days would be 'Be who you are' Biden: McCarthy's support of Cheney ouster is 'above my pay grade' Conservative group sues over prioritization of women, minorities for restaurant aid MORE as the winner.

On Monday, Trump's campaign requested an audit of the signatures on the ballots for the fifth time. Georgia Gov. Brian KempBrian KempThree charged in Arbery killing plead not guilty to federal hate crimes Georgia official considering cutting federal unemployment to force people back to work Georgia senators introduce measure allowing voters to have access to water while waiting MORE (R) has also voiced his support for a sample audit of signatures.

Trump told reporters last week he would travel to Georgia in order to support the GOP candidates in their respective elections.