Jody Hice

U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga., speaks at a Veterans Day ceremony Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020, in Loganville, Ga.

MONROE, Ga. — Two top Republican officials are warning against people moving into Georgia to vote in the Senate runoffs.

The balance of the Senate hangs on the Jan. 5 races. In one, Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., is seeking reelection against Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff. In the other, Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., tries to hang on to her seat for two more years against challenger the Rev. Raphael Warnock, a Democrat.

The Senate term that begins in early January would have 50 Republicans and 48 Democrats, plus the two senators chosen from Georgia. If Democrats win both races, they’ll control the Senate as of Jan. 20 when Vice President-elect Kamala Harris takes office and can break ties.

A victory by either Loeffler or Perdue, or both, ensures at least two more years of GOP control.

Former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang has said he plans to move to Georgia to work on the runoff, but Rep. Jody Hice said anyone planning to come here just to vote should think again.

Prospective voters may register by Dec. 7 to vote in the runoff.

“The deadline to register is one thing; being considered a citizen of the state of Georgia is an entirely different thing, and I do not believe it is legal for those individuals temporarily, on a phony pretense, to try to move to Georgia just so they can try to alter our election here,” Hice said in an interview with former Trump administration press secretary Sean Spicer on Newsmax this week.

“That would be, in my opinion — I believe, if I’m accurate, a felony, and it’s not going to be permitted.”

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr posted guidance Thursday that seemed to confirm Hice’s view. The notice said the state Constitution sets out rules for registrars to determine if an applicant is a resident of the state and county.

Carr said state law makes it a felony to vote or attempt to vote if the person is not qualified to live in the state.

In a joint statement Friday, Gov. Brian Kemp, Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and House Speaker David Ralston — all Republicans — echoed the warning: “We appreciate Attorney General Carr highlighting Georgia election law regarding residency requirements for voting in the January 5th runoff. Many Georgians have rightly been concerned about this issue, and this confirmation provides assurance that anyone who registers to vote or attempts to vote knowing they do not meet the residency requirements will be guilty of a felony under Georgia law.”

Georgia Republican Party Chairman David Shafer wrote Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, the state’s top elections official, urging him to “utilize your broad powers” to stifle any attempts at people moving into the state en masse to affect the election.

Shafer asked the secretary of state to direct county boards of registrars to report each new voter registration until Dec. 7 within 24 hours to the state, and to investigate each new registration on the person’s intention to remain a Georgia resident.

If that’s not feasible, the GOP is asking the state to segregate all ballots cast by new voters until an investigation can be completed.

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