Choose Declines, For Now, to Block Components of Georgia Voting Regulation

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A federal judge on Wednesday abandoned portions of Georgia’s comprehensive electoral law and refused to put it into effect a week before the runoff elections for state seats.

In his ruling, Judge JP Boulee of the US District Court for the Northern District of Georgia said he was basing his decision on the upcoming July 13 election, not on the merits of the case.

“The court certainly recognizes the gravity of the damage alleged by plaintiffs from the First and Fourteenth Amendments,” wrote Judge Boulee, “but is concerned in this case about the July 13th 2021 runoff elections, including the risk of administering one to disrupt ongoing election ”. Choice outweigh the alleged harm to the plaintiff at this point.

He continued, “The court is reserving its judgment on the adequacy of appeals in relation to future elections and will issue a separate order on the matter at a later date.”

Georgian Foreign Minister Brad Raffensperger celebrated the decision, saying in a statement: “This is just one more in a series of frivolous lawsuits against Georgian electoral law based on misinformation and lies. We will continue to meet them and beat them to court. “

The lawsuit was brought by the Coalition for Good Governance, a non-profit group whose stated goal is to protect electoral security and transparency. It questions several provisions of Georgia Law, SB 202, including one that shortened the time frame for applying for postal ballot papers and others that prohibited people from photographing ballot papers or intentionally watching a voter vote.

The lawsuit argues that the rules are an unconstitutional burden on voters and violate the right of citizens and journalists to share information about elections.

“Of course we are disappointed that the unconstitutional measures in SB 202 will control the July 13th runoff, with all the dangers they pose to the integrity and transparency of those elections,” said Marilyn R. Marks, executive director of the Coalition, on Wednesday. “We are concerned about the voter confusion that will undoubtedly arise with these little-known, rapid changes to the rules.”

Ms. Marks said she hoped the court would block the provisions for subsequent elections.

The Coalition for Good Governance lawsuit is separate from a Justice Department lawsuit filed last month alleging that Georgia law intentionally discriminates against black voters.