With the Georgia gubernatorial election on the horizon, there is a lot of uncertainty around the state’s voting practices. A bill was just passed giving state police more power to investigate “voter fraud claims,” The Election Integrity Act will surely make things more difficult for people of color. Stacey Abrams has already filed suit to gain access to the unlimited fundraising committee access granted by Senate Bill 221. According to the Associated Press, a federal lawsuit filed by Abrams’s Fair Fight Action and non-profit, Care in Action back in 2018 is set to go to trial.
At the end of the 2018 election, where Abrams lost to Gov. Brian Kemp by just over 50,000 votes, the Democratic candidate stated she would challenge how Georgia’s state elections were managed.
The lawsuit alleged stage officials “grossly mismanaged” the election, depriving some citizens, particularly low-income people and people of color, of their right to vote. It also called for a complete overall of the state election process. U.S. District Judge Steve Jones threw out parts of the lawsuit in 2021. He also stated some of the requests had been done–specifically with a new system replacing outdated voting machines implemented in 2020. Claims targeting the “use it or lose it” rule, which results in the cancellation of eligible voters because they hadn’t voted in recent elections, were also dismissed–Jones had noted, “even canceled voters can re-register to vote.”
The remaining issues include the “exact match” policy, the statewide voter registration list, and the in-person cancellation of absentee ballots. The plaintiffs allege Georgia’s secretary of state and State Election Board members are “denying and abridging Georgians’ right to vote” in violation of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the U.S. Constitution.
If Judge Jones sides with the plaintiffs, it’s not clear that an immediate impact would be felt. As the Associated Press points out, district judges have been wary of making late decisions that could “affect an outcome of an election.”
Executive director of Fair Fight Action, Cianti Stewart-Reid, spoke to the collection of statements of people who had problems voting.
“Since the start of this lawsuit, we have highlighted real voters and their challenges because we believe that is one of the most effective ways to demonstrate the barriers in Georgia’s elections system,” Fair Fight executive director Cianti Stewart-Reid said in an emailed statement. She added that voters from around the state will testify at trial about obstacles faced while trying to vote.
The plaintiffs also claim the statewide voter registration database is “error-ridden,” leading to many eligible voters being deleted from the database. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has accused Abrams of “undermining Georgia’s elections.”
“Her 3-year ‘stolen election’ campaign has been nothing more than a political stunt to keep her in the national spotlight, and it’s a disservice to Georgia voters,” he said in an emailed statement.