State of Georgia Sued Over Alleged Voter Suppression

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Ever since it was announced that Donald J. Trump was going to be the 45th President of these United States of America, Democrats have been looking to attach themselves to any kind of competition to gain some kind of payback for their defeat (See: Super Bowl LI). Although it didn’t result in an explicit victory, this past Tuesday’s special election for Georgia’s House seat in its Sixth District offered Democrats their first viable taste of victory and vengeance.

Wednesday’s special election resulted in Democrat Jon Ossoff narrowly missing out on the 50 percent of the vote that he needed to win the contest outright, thus making a run-off between Ossoff and top GOP vote-getter Karen Handel necessary. The details of the run-off, scheduled for June 20, have already become the subject of controversy and, now, a lawsuit.

Yesterday, the DC-based Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed a lawsuit on behalf of five different civil rights groups–the Georgia NAACP among them–that claims that a certain Georgia state law that prohibits those who weren’t registered for this week’s special election from voting in June’s run-off is in violation of national voting laws.

The reportedly violated law that the complaint cites is the National Voter Registration Act of 1993, which explicitly states that states “can set a voter registration deadline for federal elections shorter than 30 days, and a number of States do so, but cannot set a longer deadline.” The complaint claims that Georgia’s “statutory scheme” effectively creates a deadline that exceeds the restriction of a 30-day registration deadline, which will mean that people who registered between March 21 and May 22 won’t be eligible to vote in June.

According to the complaint, the five groups are seeking “injunctive relief” by requiring the state of Georgia to allow all eligible residents of Georgia’s Sixth District the ability to continue to register to vote in the June run-off through May 22.

Speaking to reporters, Candice Broce, a spokeswoman for Georgia’s Secretary of State Brian Kemp, characterized the lawsuit as a “political attack” “This law has been in place since [former Georgia Secretary of State] Cathy Cox, a Democrat, was in office but they’ve waited until now to challenge it. This is just being done to disrupt our processes. We will fight it in court,” Broce said.

Broce also said that Georgia state law treats run-off elections as extensions of special elections, which would make the rigidity of the voter registration deadline a logical practice.

Georgia has a record of employing various voter suppression tactics both historically and recently. In October, the ACLU sued the state over its decision to not extend its voter registration deadline in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp said in a statement that the lawsuit was a “nakedly political stunt to manipulate the system and squander state and county resources days before the election.”

Austin Elias-De Jesus
Austin is an editorial intern at Law Street Media. He is a junior at The George Washington University majoring in Political Communication. You can usually find him reading somewhere. If you can’t find him reading, he’s probably taking a walk. Contact Austin at Staff@Lawstreetmedia.com.



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