A federal judge ruled Friday that Georgia's election practices, while "not perfect," do not violate the Constitution or the Voting Rights Act of 1965, shutting down a challenge by a group associated with Stacey Abrams.
The 288-page order comes in response to a lawsuit first filed in November 2018 after Republican Brian Kemp defeated Abrams in Georgia's gubernatorial election.
Kemp defeated Abrams by more than 54,000 votes to become governor. Abrams has never conceded to Kemp and has claimed the 2018 election was "stolen from Georgians."
The lawsuit was filed by Fair Fight Action and Care in Action and initially sought a massive overhaul of the state's election system. By the time the case went to trial earlier this year, the suit focused on several specific election processes, including the state's "exact match" policy for voter-registration applications. The groups argued that those attempting to register to vote have run into problems if information on applications doesn't exactly match that in driver's-license or Social Security databases or if new U.S. citizens' information hasn't been updated in the driver's-license database.
The groups also claimed that county election officials, who are trained by the state on the process for canceling absentee ballots, were given inadequate training and incorrect training materials. The plaintiffs accused state officials of mismanaging the voter-registration database. The groups argued that the policies negatively impacted people of color and new citizens and therefore violated the U.S. Constitution and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Josh Belinfante, a lawyer for state election officials, defended the rules and argued that the state's automatic voter-registration policy and recent increase in voter registration among black residents are evidence that the state is not suppressing voters.
Fair Fight collected testimony from more than 3,000 voters, and very few were unable to cast a ballot. None of the voters said they could not cast a ballot in 2020. Belinfante argued the testimonials showed that many issues were resolved quickly.
Kemp celebrated the ruling on Friday, saying in a statement: "Judge Jones' ruling exposes this legal effort for what it really is: a tool wielded by a politician hoping to wrongfully weaponize the legal system to further her own political goals."
Abrams responded to the ruling in a statement of her own: "While the Court's actions are not the preferred outcome, the conduct of this trial and preceding cases and legislative actions represent a hard-won victory for voters who endured long lines, burdensome date of birth requirements and exact match laws that disproportionately impact Black and Brown voters."
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