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Judge blocks Georgia GOP's attempt to make voting harder ahead of the runoffs

A federal judge ruled against a GOP effort to get rid of ballot drop boxes in the critical Jan. 5 contests.

By Emily Singer - December 17, 2020
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Election Day in Georgia
People cast their ballots at National Hills Baptist Church on election day in Augusta, Ga., Tuesday morning November 6, 2018.

A federal judge in Georgia on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit from Georgia Republicans, who were trying to ban the use of ballot drop boxes in state’s critical Jan. 5 Senate runoff elections, according to multiple reports.

Judge Randal Hall, a George W. Bush appointee, said the runoff elections are already underway and thus the rules cannot be changed. Early voting in the state began on Monday, and hundreds of thousands of people have already cast ballots.

“We are not on the eve of an election. We are, as it relates to this particular election, we are closing in on half time,” Hall said in a ruling from the bench, according to Politico’s Josh Gerstein.

The lawsuit seeking to ban the use of ballot drop boxes is one of three cases Republicans have brought to try to make voting harder in the upcoming Jan. 5 runoff elections. Aside from trying to ban drop boxes for absentee ballots, the lawsuits also seek to change the rules for signature verification on absentee ballots, Politico reported.

The outcome of those runoff elections will determine control of the Senate. And GOP incumbents David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler are facing tough challenges from Democrats Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock, respectively.

The lawsuits seeking to make it harder to vote come after Donald Trump lost reelection last month — with President-elect Joe Biden notching a 306 to 232 Electoral College victory. Biden flipped Georgia blue, becoming the first Democrat to win the state’s 16 Electoral College votes for the first time since 1992.

Losing Georgia enraged Trump, who has been demanding that its GOP governor, Brian Kemp, overturn the results based on lies about voter fraud. Those lies have led to violent threats against Georgia election officials.

Ultimately, the GOP has admitted that it believes the easier it is to vote, the worse it is for their party.

For example, on Thursday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) said he’s concerned that notifying infrequent voters that they can vote by mail would cause the two Georgia Republican senators to lose the runoffs next month.

Even before the 2020 election began, Republicans waged a war on voting rights, filing numerous lawsuits seeking to make it harder to vote. Those efforts failed.

Now, Republicans are lying about voter fraud, and using those lies to justify making it harder to vote.

This one effort in Georgia has failed, but voting rights advocates expect the GOP to continue trying to restrict voting rights in the wake of Trump’s 2020 defeat.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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