Secretary of State warns against groups bringing illegal voters to Georgia

Georgia Secretary of State Ben Raffensperger holds a press conference on the status of ballot counting.

Georgia's secretary of state is warning any groups helping people move to the state in order to vote in the Senate runoff elections in January.

In a statement Monday, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said that those coming to Georgia just to vote in the election are involved in the conspiracy to commit voter fraud and could be charged.

“Make no mistake about it, I will seek to prosecute those who try to undermine our elections to the fullest extent of the law,” Raffensperger said. “The integrity of our elections is paramount. Outside groups who seek to interfere with democracy in Georgia should be forewarned that the consequences will be severe.”

According to Georgia law, all registrants must be "a resident of this state and of the county or municipality in which he or she seeks to vote” and whose "habitation is fixed, without any present intention of removing therefrom," which Raffensberger says applies to anyone coming to Georgia just to vote.

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Individuals found guilty could be punished with between one and 10 years in prison and up to a $100,000 fine.

Officials say any "activist groups" who are organizing such efforts could be charged with felony racketeering, which is punished with five to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000 per count.

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The Jan. 5 runoffs for the two seats in Georgia will determine whether the Senate becomes a Republican-held check on Biden’s agenda or a Democratic partnership with the new White House.

Democrats are amassing an army of volunteers, fueled by a fresh onslaught of donations from Americans nationwide eager to ensure the Senate, like the Democratic-majority House, has Biden’s back. Meanwhile, the Republican National Committee said last week it’s funding more than 600 staffers in the state with an investment of at least $20 million ahead of the Jan. 5 runoffs.

With Biden’s victory, Republicans would need 51 seats for majority control, since the vice president of the party in the White House — soon to be Kamala Harris — becomes a tie-breaker in the Senate.

As the tally now stands, Republicans will have a 50-48 hold on the Senate heading into the new Congress.

The Senate can make or break the White House’s agenda. With a Democratic Senate, Biden would have allies to easily confirm his nominees, including for cabinet positions, and shape passage of legislation. If Republicans keep control, Senate Majority Mitch McConnell can block Biden’s agenda.

Georgians have until Dec. 7 to register in the runoff election.

Early voting begins on Dec. 14.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.