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Georgia’s Long Poll Lines Targeted in New Covid Voting Lawsuit

Aug. 7, 2020, 7:49 PM

The Democratic Party of Georgia and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee are asking a federal court for help in ensuring Georgia voters won’t be subjected in November to the long lines and overcrowded polling places they experienced in June, according to a new lawsuit.

Georgia voters face some of the longest average wait times at polling places nationwide, with voters often waiting hours to cast their ballots, the groups told the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia Thursday.

They’re joined in the lawsuit by voters who claim to have been subjected to hours-long lines during the state’s June primary. Plaintiff Gianella Chavez, for example, alleges she arrived at her Cobb County polling place at 4:30 p.m. but didn’t cast her vote until 1:00 a.m. the next morning.

Many voters, particularly those from minority communities, have jobs or family obligations that foreclose their ability to stand in line for hours, the plaintiffs said. The long wait times deter otherwise eligible voters from voting, effectively disenfranchising them in violation of their constitutional rights, the plaintiffs said.

The Covid-19 pandemic has increased the pressure on Georgia’s voting system, they said. Voters will likely be even more unwilling in November to stand in close proximity to strangers for hours on end, risking catching the highly-contagious respiratory virus or bringing it home to their families, they said.

Georgia law grants election officials like Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger the power to solve this problem, but he’s refused to do so, they said.

The Democratic groups and plaintiff voters want Judge Michael L. Brown to declare that the Georgia officials’ alleged refusal to open more polling places and provide additional election resources violate the U.S. Constitution.

They also want him to order officials to increase election resources and polling places and ensure that those resources are equitably distributed along with guidance and instructions ahead of the November general election.

Causes of Action: First and 14th Amendment; 42 U.S.C. § 1983.

Relief: Declaratory and injunctive relief; costs and fees.

Response: Raffensperger’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Attorneys: Krevolin & Horst LLC and Perkins Coie LLP represent the plaintiffs.

For additional legal resources, visit Bloomberg Law In Focus: Coronavirus (Bloomberg Law Subscription).

The case is Anderson v. Raffensperger, N.D. Ga., No. 20-cv-03263, complaint filed 8/6/20.

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; Patrick L. Gregory at pgregory@bloomberglaw.com

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