Georgia Investigating NAACP Student Voter Registrations at High Schools

AP Photo/Andrew D. Brosig
AP Photo/Andrew D. Brosig

The state of Georgia is reportedly launching an investigation into student voter registrations handled by the local chapter of the NAACP at Glynn County area high schools.

The state’s secretary of state elections division is now probing voter registrations at Glynn Academy and Brunswick High School, reports Pamela Permar Shierling at local news outlet the Islander:

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According to the report, NAACP local chapter President Rev. John Fields said between 30 and 50 voter registrations from both schools were late in arriving at the Glynn County Board of Elections due to Hurricane Matthew.

The report, sent to Breitbart News, states Glynn County board of education member Venus Holmes had contacted assistant superintendent Dr. Jim Pulos about the NAACP’s request to assist with a student registration drive.

As a result of Holmes contacting Pulos, the NAACP was permitted to set up voter registration at Glynn Academy.

Shierling reports that in the Facebook photo below, from the account of the Glynn County Democrat Party, two of the women seated at the table during the voter registration drive on September 27 are current Glynn County board of education members Holmes and Democrat candidate for the board of education Linda Bobbitt:

“Democrat write-in candidate for the First Congressional District Seat, Nathan Russo, is standing behind the women,” writes Shierling. “In posted comments, Democrat Party Chair Audrey Gibbons thanks those in the photo for their efforts with the Party’s GOTV (Get Out the Vote).”

According to Dr. Scott Spence, principal of Glynn Academy, the regular student voter registration procedure is handled by the social studies department at the school each year in April.

Spence reportedly added that the district has no policy regarding student voter registration drives and – as far as he knows – no third party group has ever requested to conduct a voter registration drive within the school.

“When asked why did the school system allow a third party (NAACP) to leave campus with students’ registrations and personal data, Dr. Spence said, ‘We handed the voter registration forms to a BOE member, Venus Holmes,’” says the report.

About 25 student voter registration forms were reportedly handed to Holmes from seniors who completed them in economics and literature classes because, according to Spence, seniors leave campus during lunch and would not likely be attending the NAACP lunchtime voter drive.

Holmes said she handed the registration forms to candidate Russo, who was to turn them over to Rev. Fields. However, Fields said he kept the forms from September 27 and 28 in his church office and that the board of elections did not receive them until October 13, two days after the deadline, because they were included with forms from other voter registration drives and he wanted to hand them in all at once.

Another situation, however, has raised more concern about the student registration drives.

Shierling reports that one parent of a Glynn Academy senior was alarmed when her teen called her, concerned about being asked to sign a voter registration form on November 1.

Jolee Benoit said her daughter was asked to complete the voter registration form in classes on November 1 and backdate the form to September 26. The teen called her mother, expressing concern that she was being asked to backdate and sign a form that also warned it is a felony to “knowingly give false information in registering.”

“Thankfully, my child was smart enough to call me before signing,” Benoit told the Islander. “Most students would go forth with whatever the school is advising.”

She added that when she called the school about the concern, she was told the NAACP and/or the Democrat Party had conducted the drive in September and that “the directive to backdate the forms came from a higher up on the Glynn County Board of Education and that the Board of Elections would accept the backdated forms.”

The Islander reports the state says it will investigate the matter for potential violation of the rules for voter registration by private groups. Patty Gibson, board of elections secretary, told Shierling the late applications will be held until after Election Day and then entered into the voting system.

“The bottom line is that no one who registered in September to vote at either Glynn Academy or Brunswick High School either in class or at the NAACP registration drive is eligible to vote on November 8,” concludes Spierling.