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Midnight Train to Georgia? Not so Fast.

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Brynn Anderson

There is a new fad sweeping the progressive left: from former presidential candidate Andrew Yang to New York Timescommentator Thomas Friedman, the call is going out: if you’re progressive and you know it, pack up and move to Georgia. 


The object of this nationwide exodus is simple: there are two Senate seats up for grabs, and they will determine control of Congress’s upper chamber. The fate of everything from socialized medicine, to court-packing, to the Green New Deal is on the line. But while the left insists that history is on its side, the odds in Georgia are not. 

So as the saying goes, if you can’t win the game, change the rules. 

The Constitution bases congressional representation on residency. Each state gets two senators, elected by the voters who reside in that state. After all, the job of a senator is to take the interests, issues, and concerns of their state to Washington and ensure they are heard. 

The trouble is, by most accounts, the people of Georgia are more likely to vote for the incumbents, Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, than their chief Democratic challengers, Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock. 

So it is hardly surprising that progressive standard bearers are urging their fellows to winter in Georgia, register, and vote—before presumably decamping on January 6 to tell their friends of their heroic deeds. 

There is just one problem with this particular electoral strategy: evidence of moving to Georgia temporarily to register and vote in order to swing an election is almost certainly enough for a case of felony voter fraud. 

It turns out, black letter election law is fairly clear: to vote in Georgia, you have to be a resident of Georgia. It is true that Georgia law does not require a voter to have lived in the state for any period of time before the December 7 registration deadline. But the law does state, “[t]he residence of any person shall be held to be in that place in which such person's habitation is fixed, without any present intention of removing therefrom.” 


Georgia law emphasizes the point by stating that one cannot gain residency if he or she “has come for temporary purposes only without the intention of making such county or municipality such person’s permanent place of abode.” 

So, anyone planning on renting an Airbnb for a few weeks to vote while skiing in the Blue Ridge mountains would seem to be out of luck. 

But who’s to say that someone’s stated intention to become a Georgian isn’t truthful? The law is fairly open-ended here. Registrars and other officials vetting voter registrations can consider where a registrant receives his mail or “any other evidence that indicates where the person resides.” One imagines that evidence would be forthcoming. Who honestly expects these woke road-trippers not to proudly post their intentions on social media? After all, in their own eyes this wouldn’t be some fraudulent foray, but a pilgrimage to save their preferred vision for America. 

And therein lies the greatest trouble: the left has conditioned its most extreme followers to treat everything—the Constitution, the voting laws of our nation, even the basic tenants of representative government—as barriers that suppress the will of the people if they get in the way of progressive electoral victories. 

In reality, the only people suppressing the will of Georgians are the politicians and pundits openly enticing their followers to descend on the state and drown out their opponents. After all, the January runoff is supposed to be an election for two senators fromGeorgia, not a pair of at-large legislators answerable to itinerant ideologues. 


Some might protest that Americans move across state lines all the time, and that this is no different. Each year roughly 10 percent of the U.S. population does move—often, incidentally, from high-tax, high regulation blue states tothe moretaxpayer and business friendly red states. By many accounts, that phenomenon is already largely responsible for the transition of Georgia into a political battleground. 

But only the willfully blind see no difference between an organic process like that, and one deliberately engineered for the mere purpose of orchestrating a takeover of the U.S. Senate. 

Georgia election officials have a duty to the voters of their state to ensure a fair and honest election. Vote as they may, it should be actual Georgia residents who pick their senators.  It would be wise to signal now this mischief will be investigated and prosecuted—not in hopes of actually locking anyone up, but to avoid ever needing to. A spokesman for the Secretary of State’s Office has already confirmed to the Wall Street Journal that “it is a felony to vote in Georgia” if you are only there to cast a ballot. 

The exodus strategy is a long shot. To be successful, it would likely require tens or hundreds of thousands of people to uproot themselves and move to Georgia by December 7, the voter registration cutoff. To truly be successful, all of these people would likely have to go to great lengths to establish residency and avoid having their registrations or their votes challenged—to say nothing of potentially facing felony voter fraud charges. 


But it is worrying that the pursuit of political power has led some to contemplate such extreme—and blatantly illegal—actions, and to advocate them in full view of the public. That does not bode well for the future of the democratic process or the rule of law. After a year of politicized lawsuits that upended the voting process, our democratic institutions need a return to normalcy. We should be elevating our voting system above politics to ensure its fairness and credibility, not seeking workarounds to cheat the system and win at any price. 

Jason Snead is executive director of the Honest Elections Project. 

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