Democrats sue for Saturday voting in Georgia Senate runoff

Nov 14, 2022, 8:13 PM | Updated: Nov 15, 2022, 10:43 am
FILE - Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is shown in this Oct. 18, 2022 file photograph...

FILE - Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is shown in this Oct. 18, 2022 file photograph speaking during the Atlanta Press Club Loudermilk-Young Debate Series in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Ben Gray File)

(AP Photo/Ben Gray File)

ATLANTA (AP) — U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock’s campaign and Democratic groups are suing the state of Georgia to overturn guidance by Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger that counties can’t offer Saturday voting ahead of next month’s Senate runoff election.

The lawsuit, filed late Monday by the Democratic Party of Georgia, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Warnock campaign, challenges the state’s finding that it would be illegal to hold early voting on Nov. 26, the day after a state holiday. The lawsuit says the state’s interpretation hurts Warnock in particular because Democrats tend to push early voting more than Republicans.

The race between Warnock and his Republican challenger, Herschel Walker, is headed to a Dec. 6 runoff after neither candidate won a majority of votes in the midterm election. Democrats have already secured control of the Senate but are hoping to increase their narrow margin with a Warnock victory.

“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.”

Raffensperger dismissed the lawsuit as 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.”

Walker’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Under Georgia’s 2021 election law, there will be only four weeks before the runoff — with Thanksgiving in the middle. Many Georgians will be offered only five weekdays of early in-person voting beginning Nov. 28. And June’s primary runoffs showed time for mail ballots to be received and returned can be very tight.

Raffensperger and Deputy Secretary of State Gabriel Sterling had initially said they expected at least some counties would offer voting on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. State law requires at least five weekdays of early in-person balloting beginning Monday, Nov. 28, but also directs Georgia’s 159 counties to open early in-person voting “as soon as possible” in a runoff.

But Sterling told The Associated Press in a Friday interview that officials had researched the law and concluded that it would be illegal to hold early voting on a day after a state holiday. Thanksgiving and the following Friday are both state holidays. Raffensperger’s office followed up Saturday with an official election bulletin to the counties setting the position into writing.

The plaintiffs say Raffensperger’s interpretation “misreads” and “cherry-picks” the law.

They argue that the bar on voting after a holiday applies only to primary and general elections and not to runoffs. They say a 2017 revision of state law dropped the holiday exception for runoffs, and that reading it that way would mandate early voting on Saturday, Nov. 19, an impossibility since state officials don’t plan to certify the midterm election results until Monday, Nov. 21.

“The Secretary’s insistence that counties may not hold advance voting on November 26 therefore has no support in the law,” lawyers wrote.

The lawsuit, filed in Fulton County Superior Court, asks a judge to rule that the law doesn’t bar counties from holding advance voting on Saturday, Nov. 26 and to bar Raffensperger from interfering with counties holding voting on that day. The plaintiffs also ask for an emergency hearing and temporary restraining order.

The DSCC has sent letters encouraging counties to defy Raffensperger and schedule Saturday voting anyway. But the lawsuit notes that the State Election Board might retaliate against counties that go ahead by investigating or suspending election officials. Atlanta’s Fulton County is already under investigation after Republican lawmakers used a provision in Georgia’s 2021 election law to demand a state inquiry.

Republicans pushed through the election law in response to Donald Trump’s false claims that he had been cheated out of victory in Georgia. Republicans argued the law was needed to restore public confidence, but it shortened the period to request an absentee ballot and limited ballot drop boxes, leading to a Democratic outcry.

Saturday voting had less participation during the general election than weekday early voting, but Democrats argue that it benefits people who can’t vote on weekdays and that eliminating Saturday voting would harm Warnock “by eliminating a potential advance voting day that is likely to be used by voters who affiliate with the Democratic Party.”

The lawsuit plays out against a yearslong background of clashes over voting in Georgia. In 2018, Democrat Stacey Abrams claimed Republican Brian Kemp used his position as secretary of state to improperly hold back likely Democratic voters in their gubernatorial contest that year. The Abrams-founded Fair Fight Action lost a lawsuit over those claims.

___

Learn more about the issues and factors at play in the midterms at https://apnews.com/hub/explaining-the-elections. And follow the AP’s election coverage of the 2022 elections at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - A flyer seeking information about the killings of four University of Idaho students who were...
Associated Press

Idaho police seek car seen near site where 4 students killed

Police are asking for help finding the occupant of a car that was seen near where four University of Idaho students were stabbed to death last month, saying that person could have "critical information" about the case.
1 day ago
Aisha Ali, 40, cries as she and her daughter Husseina, 9, wait in Tabawa, northeastern Nigeria, for...
Associated Press

‘God’s plan’: Family flees amid catastrophic Nigeria floods

TABAWA, Nigeria (AP) — When the floodwaters reached Aisha Ali’s hut made of woven straw mats and raffia palms, she packed up what belongings she could and set off on foot with her eight youngest children. Ali, 40, knew she and her family might never see their home again. In this remote village –in the […]
1 day ago
Thailand soldiers stand with seized packages of illegal drugs and the body of a suspected smuggler ...
Associated Press

15 suspected drug smugglers killed by Thai border patrol

BANGKOK (AP) — Thai soldiers clashed with suspected drug smugglers in a forested area in the country’s north near the Myanmar border, killing 15, authorities said Thursday. The soldiers encountered the group of suspects carrying backpacks Wednesday evening and ordered them to stop, but they instead opened fire, according to the Pha Muang Task Force, […]
1 day ago
A worker in protective gear disinfects his gloves as residents get their routine COVID-19 throat sw...
Associated Press

China’s looser anti-COVID measures met with relief, caution

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — A day after China announced the rollback of some of its most stringent COVID-19 restrictions, people across the country are greeting the news with a measure of relief but also caution, as many wait to see how the new approach will be implemented. Following nationwide protests last month against China’s harsh […]
1 day ago
This image released by Netflix shows Prince Harry, right, and Meghan, Duke and Duchess of Sussex, i...
Associated Press

UK royals brace as Harry-Meghan doc promises ‘full truth’

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s monarchy braced for more bombshells to be lobbed over the palace gates Thursday as Netflix released the first three episodes of a series that promises to tell the “full truth” about Prince Harry and Meghan’s estrangement from the royal family. Promoted with two dramatically edited trailers that hint at racism and […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

EU split over newest members joining ID-check-free zone

BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union countries are weighing on Thursday whether the bloc’s three newest members — Bulgaria, Romania, and Croatia — can fully open their borders and participate in Europe’s ID-check-free travel zone, but more delays to their entry appear likely. A green light would be a boon for their economies. The so-called Schengen […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Democrats sue for Saturday voting in Georgia Senate runoff