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Georgia Voting Group Urges Court to Loosen Absentee Ballot Rules

June 11, 2020, 4:52 PM

The equipment failures and long lines during Georgia’s recent primary election “was a dire warning of things to come” if the state isn’t required to loosen some of its absentee ballot and other rules for the general election, a voting rights organization told a federal judge in the state.

There were problems with new touch-screen machines, and voters were still waiting in line at midnight at some polling places in Atlanta, according to Bloomberg News.

Turnout for the general election in November could be twice what it was on June 9, up to 4.4 million voters, the Georgia New Project said Wednesday. The initiative was launched by former gubernatorial candidate Stacy Abrams in 2013, when she was still serving as the Georgia House Minority Leader.

The group is asking the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia to issue a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of certain parts of the election code.

Georgia currently requires voters under the age of 65 to apply for an absentee ballot for each election in an election cycle, whereas voters over the age of 65 only have to make one request. The state doesn’t pre-pay for the postage to return an absentee ballot, and refuses to count absentee ballots received after 7 p.m. on election day, even if the ballot was mailed before election day.

These rules, among others cited in the organization’s filing, unconstitutionally overburden the right to vote and shouldn’t be enforced for the November election, as experts say the highly-contagious coronavirus will persist into the fall, the organization said.

The lawsuit, filed in May, didn’t seek to change the rules for the June primary, which was delayed twice over coronavirus concerns.

But the problems during the primary election show that the state’s overly strict absentee ballot rules and other impediments to voting must be addressed now to avoid irreparable harm in November, the New Georgia Project said.

Perkins Coie LLP and Krevolin & Horst LLC represent the New Georgia Project.

Robbins Ross Alloy Belinfante Littlefiled LLC represents Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

The case is The New Georgia Project v. Raffensperger, N.D. Ga., No. 20-cv-01986, motion for preliminary injunction filed 6/10/20.

To contact the reporter on this story: Porter Wells in Washington at pwells@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Tricchinelli at rtricchinelli@bloomberglaw.com; Steven Patrick at spatrick@bloomberglaw.com

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