Warnock, Democrats sue Georgia Republican secretary of state over early voting dates

Source: Hot Air

A legal battle has broken out between the Warnock campaign and the Georgia secretary of state over the early voting dates leading up to the run-off election on December 6. Democrat incumbent Senator Raphael Warnock is in a heated run-off race with Republican Herschel Walker. A problem has arisen with the dates of the early voting period.

As I wrote about on Monday, the day after Thanksgiving is an official state holiday. New election integrity reforms passed in Georgia shortened the timeline for run-off races. The run-off must take place four weeks after the general election. In this case, early voting should start “as soon as possible” but has to begin eight days ahead of the runoff, November 28. With this year’s schedule, early in-person voting includes Thanksgiving day. Counties can’t hold early voting on a federal holiday or two days afterward. So, that knocks out Friday and Saturday, too. Only some counties offer Sunday voting. The new abbreviated in-person early voting period lasts just one week. The Friday after Thanksgiving is a state holiday – formerly known as the celebration of Robert E. Lee’s birthday. Now it is just generically called a state holiday.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger at first gave the go-ahead for counties to hold early voting on Saturday, November 26. Then his office backtracked. The law that was passed in 2016 with bipartisan support which prohibits early voting on days immediately following a holiday was cited as the reason for Raffensperger’s change in his decision. Georgia law requires a week’s notice before advance voting begins, so time is of the essence. The major metro Atlanta counties, such as Fulton and Gwinnett, have committed to beginning early voting on Sunday, November 27. Early voting hours will be extended for the week – from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

According to Axios, Warnock said on Tuesday, “This is certainly something all of us should be able to agree on. “We just saw an election in November where the people of Georgia made it clear that they want to use Saturday voting.”

The other side: In a statement, Raffensperger accused Warnock and Democrats of “seeking to change Georgia law right before an election based on their political preferences.”

He accused them of “muddying the water and pressuring counties to ignore Georgia law.”

Enter the cries of voter suppression. The Warnock campaign, along with the Democratic Party of Georgia and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, filed a lawsuit in Fulton County Superior Court on Tuesday. The lawsuit challenges Raffensperger’s interpretation that counties cannot early vote on Saturday, November 26. Voting rights groups and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee sent letters to counties calling for them to ignore Raffensperger’s opinion. They advise the counties to offer additional early voting. Democrats make up their own rules. Raffensperger’s opinion as secretary of state is the official state decision on that one date, as they well know.

Counties in Georgia can hold more days of early voting if they so choose. The Warnock campaign is concerned because 80,000 Georgians voted in person on the first Saturday of of early voting in the general election. Democrats took advantage of early voting more than Republicans did. Each county in Georgia can make their own voting hours and dates beyond the minimum requirement, in this case one week.

Warnock’s campaign said Raffensperger’s opinion is an “illegal attempt to block Saturday voting.”

“Illegal attempts to block Saturday voting are another desperate attempt by career politicians to squeeze the people out of their own democracy and to silence the voices of Georgians,” Quentin Fulks, Warnock’s campaign manager, said in a statement. “We’re aggressively fighting to protect Georgia voters’ ability to vote on Saturday.”

How is it an illegal attempt, though, if it is Georgia law? Raffensperger said the lawsuit is just politics.

“Senator Warnock and his Democratic Party allies are seeking to change Georgia law right before an election based on their political preferences,” he said. “Instead of muddying the water and pressuring counties to ignore Georgia law, Senator Warnock should be allowing county election officials to continue preparations for the upcoming runoff.”

To recap, state law requires at least five weekdays of early in-person voting beginning Monday, November 28. However, Georgia counties, all 159 of them, can open early in-person voting “as soon as possible” in a runoff. In my humble opinion, there is adequate opportunity for all voters to find a date to early vote in person if that is how they choose to vote in the run-off. This is just the Democrats trying to create some chaos in a run-off race that is tight, tight, tight.