Discredited right-wing video producer James O’Keefe and his organization Project Veritas have released a new video spreading voter fraud conspiracy theories by targeting some of the most vulnerable Americans and their right to vote.
The two-minute video from January 4 fearmongers about homelessness advocacy groups in Georgia allowing unhoused people to use the groups' mailing addresses for voter registration in the lead-up to Tuesday's Senate runoff election in the state. O'Keefe's group is known for infiltrating progressive organizations and campaigns and secretly recording people connected to them, then heavily editing the footage to suggest wrongdoing.
Attacking people experiencing homelessness is a common practice in right-wing media: Fox News spent 2020 demonizing the homeless in its pandemic coverage, often using its coverage of unhoused people in California as a weapon against Democrats ahead of the November election. The new Project Veritas video is just the latest attempt by a right-wing group to demonize a vulnerable population and the people trying to help them.
The video itself contains secretly recorded conversations with two people identified as leaders of homelessness advocacy organizations in Atlanta, the Central Outreach and Advocacy Center (Central OAC) and Emmaus House. In the clips, both interviewees mention that their organizations allow homeless people to register to vote using their organizations’ addresses, even though they do not actually reside there. Project Veritas claims this is an avenue for election fraud, suggesting without evidence that people from outside the state could be registered to vote in Georgia because of this practice.
In reality, it is common for people experiencing homelessness to be registered with a mailing address for a shelter, advocacy center, or another place where they can get mail. Establishing residency is required for voter registration but not having a permanent address does not revoke a person's right to vote. All 50 states allow unhoused people to register using addresses where they don’t permanently reside.
Sylvia Albert, the Director of Voting and Elections at Common Cause, affirmed to Media Matters that “homeless individuals must have the right to vote, and cannot be barred from voting simply because they do not have a home.” Therefore, according to Albert, people experiencing homelessness in Georgia can register to vote, and are instructed by the state to list their address as a location where they are able to receive mail. This is often a church, shelter, charity, relative's residence, or P.O. box.
Right before Project Veritas released its video, Central OAC removed identifying information about its employees from its website in what appears to be an attempt to shield its staff. Project Veritas often encourages its audience to harass its targets; in this case, Project Veritas and O’Keefe mocked the advocacy organization in tweets and an email to supporters.
Additionally, Project Veritas clearly displays the addresses of both Emmaus House and Central OAC in its video. While both addresses are public, prominently displaying them to a hostile audience sends a dangerous message for these organizations, their employees, and the vulnerable communities they serve.