Thursday, February 22

Judge rules against Stacey Abrams organization in Georgia voting rights lawsuit

A federal judge has ruled against an organization founded by Stacey Abrams, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee for Georgia, stating that the state’s election practices do not violate constitutional rights.

The decision from US District Court Judge Steve Jones marks the end of a four-year legal battle.

“Although Georgia’s election system is not perfect, the challenged practices violate neither the constitution nor the [Voting Rights Act] VRA,” Jones wrote.

“Having held a non-jury trial and considered the evidence and arguments of the parties, for the foregoing reasons, the Court finds IN FAVOR of Defendants and against Plaintiffs.”

Fair Fight Georgia, which Abrams formed shortly after her narrow defeat to Gov. Brian Kemp (R) in the state’s 2018 gubernatorial race, filed the lawsuit to ask the judge to make changes to the state’s election system, arguing that it suppresses voter turnout.

Abrams accused Kemp, who was serving as secretary of state at the time, of “mismanagement” of the election. In addition, she criticized the “exact match” law, which declared that voter registration forms be marked pending if the information does not exactly match the information on record at the Department of Driver Services or the Social Security Administration.

The plaintiffs argued that Georgia’s election system violates the right to vote from the First and 14th Amendments to the Constitution, a ban on racial discrimination in voting from the 15th Amendment, equal protection and procedural due process under the law from the 14th Amendment and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The group argued that the State Election Board and Georgia secretary of state provided inadequate training to county election officials in absentee ballot cancellation procedures. They also alleged the secretary of state mismanaged the voter registration database.

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Abrams’s organization filed the lawsuit with Care in Action, a nonprofit advocating for domestic workers, and was joined by multiple churches.

The complaint was amended in December 2020 to name Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in his official capacity as the state’s top election official.

The Associated Press reported that Abrams said she was disappointed with the decision but added that the conduct of the trial represents a “hard-won victory” for voters who waited in long lines and experienced “burdensome date of birth requirements and exact match laws that disproportionately impact Black and Brown voters.”

Kemp said Abrams’s effort was “a tool wielded by a politician hoping to wrongfully weaponize the legal system to further her own political goals,” according to the AP.

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