Suits Seek Relief For Voters Who Cast Absentee, Provisional Ballots “In Good Faith”
The Democratic Party of Georgia and the Abrams for Governor campaign filed a lawsuit in federal court over the weekend challenging the alleged “arbitrary, unlawful rejection of thousands of absentee ballots and seeking relief for voters whose votes were wrongfully rejected despite good faith efforts on the part of the voters to properly cast their ballots.”
The Democratic Party of Georgia issued a press release Sunday evening explaining the lawsuit, which is filed against acting Secretary of State Robin A. Crittenden who assumed her role Thursday after Kemp stepped down. Reportedly, the lawsuit seeks relief for the following, according to a press release:
- Absentee mail-in ballots. The Democratic Party of Georgia and Stacey Abrams for Governor is suing the Secretary of State and the Board of Registration and Elections for Gwinnett County, while asking for relief for voters in all 159 counties. Gwinnett County has been rejecting absentee mail in ballots for spurious reasons. Federal and state law both require counties to accept absentee mail in ballots even if all of the oath information is imperfect or missing, so long as elections officials can identify the voter. Case law that shows that these ballots should be accepted, for example, if a voter inadvertently writes the current year instead of that voter’s birth year. We are asking for a court order that these votes be counted.
- Provisional ballots. The Democratic Party of Georgia and Stacey Abrams for Governor is suing the Secretary of State and the Board of Registration and Elections for DeKalb County, while asking for relief for voters in all 159 counties. The 2018 General Election saw a historic number of provisional ballots cast in Georgia, leading to significant problems and irregularities both on Election Day and during the three-day period after Election Day during which voters can fix problems with provisional ballots. For example, one voter moved from Cobb County to DeKalb County and changed her registration address prior to the registration deadline, but her registration address was not updated. She showed up to her polling place in DeKalb County, where she was wrongfully not on the rolls, and she was offered a provisional ballot. Even though she then appeared in DeKalb County to prove her registration was changed before the deadline, DeKalb did not even review the documents she provided to cure her provisional ballot. This suit seeks to count the votes of voters who, in good faith, fill out a provisional ballot in one county but are registered in another county, and to extend the time that voters have to cure any problems.
The lawsuit also alleges that:
- The Gwinnett County Board of Elections, along with other counties, violated the law and decreased turnout, which was “contrary to the missions of the DPG and the Abrams campaign
- The violation of the law by the counties caused a ‘diversion of financial and personnel resources’ for the DPG and the Abrams campaign
- Gwinnett County did not notify voters that their ballot was rejected until November 6th, which the Abrams campaign and DPG say is too late
- More provisional ballots were cast because Kemp “kept 53,000 Georgians” off the voter rolls during the registration period
- Voter confusion was exacerbated because of voter roll purges
- Extending the deadline to count ballots is “critical to ensure that thousands of voters are not disenfranchised, there is no countervailing state interest in prohibiting them from curing ballots a few days after this date.”
The lawsuit says that keeping the deadlines for provisional ballot counting in place would “abridge the rights of Georgia voters through no fault of their own, possibly
numbering in the thousands of voters.”
The claims in the lawsuit appear to also include the fact that Georgia law does not require elections officials to reject absentee ballots that do not contain the voter’s address or the voter’s date, month, or year of birth. The Abrams campaign and the DPG allege that these details are “irrelevant” to confirming the identity of the voter.
You can see the suit in its entirety below.DPG-v-Crittenden