Georgia Democrats are suing to open early voting on Saturday of Thanksgiving weekend

The Georgia Democrats filed a lawsuit Tuesday to open an early vote for the Runoff election to the Senate over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, despite a state law prohibiting voting within two days of a holiday.

Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced last week that the runoff between incumbent Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker would take place on December 6th. With 99% of the borough filings, Warnock had 49.4% of the vote and Walker 48.5%, meaning neither candidate met the state’s 50% requirement to secure the seat without an outflow.

When the Senate runoff was first announced last week, the Secretary of State’s office pointed out that while the last counties could start early voting on Monday, Nov. 28 — the week before Election Day — they did not Possibility to include a Saturday, November 11th. 26

In a press briefing last week, Raffensperger told reporters, “We anticipate that some counties will likely vote on the Saturday after Thanksgiving as well as November 26.”

“We’re working with counties to find out what their plans are on this front, as quickly as possible so their constituents can make the best plans,” Raffensperger said. “This is going to be a very tough task for our counties because it’s a four-week phase-out period.”

However, according to state election laws, early voting is not allowed within two days of a holiday, and Saturday, November 26 falls two days after Thanksgiving this year. The law, passed in 2016, has not been a problem in previous runoffs, which ran nine weeks after Election Day, instead of four this year.

Deputy Interim Secretary of State Gabriel Sterling said their hands were tied as it was a consequence of where Thanksgiving falls this year, but added: “It affects everyone equally.”

Noting that the bill is bipartisan, he noted that Stacey Abrams, the Democratic nominee for governor in 2018 and 2022, voted for the bill while she was in the Georgia Assembly.

State Democrats, including Warnock, on Tuesday announced the lawsuit, which alleges that “contrary to the Secretary’s reading of the 2016 Act,” the Act “guarantees early voting on certain weekend days for primary and general elections and terms of that mandate.” imposed, neither of which apply to the runoff, and therefore counties may hold an early vote for the Senate runoff on Saturday, November 26.

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

But Raffensperger considers this challenge to be political.

“If the recent elections prove anything, it’s that voters expect candidates to focus on winning at the ballot box — not in the courthouse,” Raffensperger said. “Senator Warnock and his Democratic Party allies are trying to change Georgia law right before an election based on their political preferences. Rather than muddy the waters and pressure counties to ignore Georgia law, Senator Warnock should allow county election officials to continue preparing for the upcoming runoff.”

As for the Democrats’ chances of success, Sterling says voting is unlikely to be affected in this election, in part because many counties will not be physically able to be ready by Saturday. As of Tuesday night, a handful of counties were still working on signing their final runoff ballots

When to move forward with in-person voting, as early voting is called in Georgia, is a county-by-county decision — a decision driven by both politics and the logistics to keep the machines, ballots and staff ready to be able to Given the short deadline for this election, few counties attempt to be open on the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

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