Judge Makes Big Ruling on Early Voting in Georgia

Voters can now head to polls on Saturday, Nov. 26, for Senate runoff race between Warnock, Walker
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 19, 2022 10:00 AM CST
Judge Makes Big Ruling on Early Voting in Georgia
This combination of photos shows, from left, Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington on Aug. 3, 2021, and Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker speaking in Perry, Ga., on Sept. 25, 2021.   (AP Photo)

The Georgia Senate race between Democrat Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker is headed for a Dec. 6 runoff, and thanks to a Fulton County judge's decision this week, locals can add one more day to the calendar in which they'll be able to cast their in-person ballot. Early voting in all counties begins Monday, Nov. 28, with a few counties allowing for early voting on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Sunday of next week, per NBC News. But next Saturday, Nov. 26, wasn't set to be open for voting, as state election officials, including Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, insisted that early voting on the Saturday after Thanksgiving violates state law.

The following Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 3 and Dec. 4, are already off the table, due to a bill Raffensperger signed last year that mandates the last day for early in-person voting for a runoff election is the Friday before that election. The same law also dictates that no early in-person voting can be held on a Saturday that follows a "public or legal holiday" on the preceding Thursday or Friday—which in this case would be Thanksgiving, as well as "State Holiday," a holiday commemorated on Friday. Until a few years back, that latter holiday celebrated Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee's birthday, though his name has since been scrubbed from the day, per the Savannah Morning News.

Warnock's legal team had argued in its complaint, which included other Democrat plaintiffs, that the law being cited by Raffensperger and others applied only to primaries and general elections, not runoffs, and Fulton County Superior Court Judge Thomas A. Cox Jr. agreed. "The Court finds that the absence of the Saturday vote will irreparably harm the Plaintiffs, their members, and constituents, and their preferred runoff candidate," Cox noted in his ruling. Spokespersons for both Raffensperger and Attorney General Chris Carr, also a Republican, say they'll appeal Cox's decision. (More Georgia stories.)

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