With the all-important twin US Senate run-off elections just days away, a federal judge related to political activist and failed Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams has issued a ruling that prevents election authorities in two counties from purging ineligible voters from the rolls.
Election authorities in Georgia’s Ben Hill and Muscogee counties ruled earlier this month that challenges to legitimacy of thousands of registered voters in those counties were valid.
The challenges employed change of address applications filed by the voters in question through the US Postal Service’s National Change of Address database, indicating that some voters had moved to a different county or state.
But because the election authorities in these two counties did not receive written confirmation of the voters’ residency changes, District Judge Leslie Abrams Gardner ruled their registrations must remain valid. Abrams Gardner wrote that removal of the names from the voter rolls violate the National Voter Registration Act.
Abrams Gardener is the sister of Stacey Abrams, whose high-profile voter registration and get-out-the-vote activism should have moved Abrams Gardner to recuse herself from the case as a matter of conflict of interest.
Judge blocks voter list clean up in 2 Georgia counties. Judge Leslie Abrams Gardner, sister of Stacey Abrams, rejected a call for her to recuse.https://t.co/BY3hwnxAZF
— Tom Fitton (@TomFitton) December 29, 2020
If true, that means the pending removal of over 4,000 voters would, Gardner said.
“While the court acknowledges that an injunction may burden defendants in their role managing the ongoing election, the harm to voters whose right to vote is wrongfully impeded or denied is far greater,” Gardner wrote.
Although these voters would have had the right to cast a provisional ballot as their cases were determined, Abrams Gardner’s ruling guarantees the voters in question can cast ballots in the January 5, 2021, run-off elections.
Majority Forward, a non-profit group that filed the emergency action in Abram Gardner’s court, called the attempt to clean-up the voter rolls “flagrant and partisan attempts at voter suppression.”
True the Vote, a Texas-based organization which has partnered with election watchdogs in Georgia, said it identified 124,114 registered voters who no longer reside in the county of record and 240,427 voters who no longer reside in the State of Georgia.
The organization’s founder Catherine Engelbrecht said her organization’s determinations were based on citing NCOA filings and supporting commercial databases.
Georgia law permits a voter to challenge the eligibility of any other voters.
The Ben Hill County Board of Elections & Registration initially found probable cause to sustain challenges to the legitimacy of 152 voters, while the Muscogee County Board of Elections & Registration found sustainable challenges for 4,033 voters.