Georgia election procedures challenged in federal lawsuit
© WikiMedia (Tom Arthur)
Georgia election procedures challenged in federal lawsuit

Supporters of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams filed a federal lawsuit Tuesday calling for major reforms of the electoral process in Georgia.

Plaintiffs argue that Georgia has had longstanding issues with voting rights, especially impacting low-income voters and voters of color:

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, a bipartisan, independent agency, found that among the states previously subject to preclearance by the Voting Rights Act, Georgia was the only state that had implemented voting restrictions in every category the Commission examined: strict requirements for voter identification; documentary proof of U.S. citizenship; purges of voters from voter registration rolls; cuts to early voting; and a raft of closed or relocated polling locations.

The lawsuit cites several circumstances and policies as being problematic: use it or lose it registration policy, exact match policy, the use of technology vulnerable to hacking, unreliable voting machines, moving and closing precincts, inaccurate voter registration rolls, inadequate resources to polling places and inadequate training and oversight of provisional ballots and absentee ballots.

In the midterm elections earlier this month, Abrams was the democratic candidate for governor of Georgia. She had previously served as the Minority leader in the Georgia House of Representatives from 2011-2017. Abrams campaign was noteworthy because she was the first black woman major-party gubernatorial candidate in the US.

The race against Brian Kemp became highly contested because Kemp’s position during the election as Secretary of State provided him oversight of the elections. For the past several elections, Kemp had been accused of suppressing voters with the cancellation of thousands of voter application forms.

Two nonprofit organizations were part of the filing: Fair Fight Action and Care in Action. Fair Fight Action “advocates for election reform and voter access by raising public awareness about election reform, lobbying the state legislature for election reform, and engaging in a targeted voter registration program.” Fair Fight Action was formed by Abrams after her election defeat. Care in Action “is dedicated to fighting for dignity and fairness for the millions of domestic workers in the United States—most of whom are women—including by educating voters about voting rights and procedures and advocating for candidates who support domestic worker concerns.”

Immediately following the election, Abrams refused to concede and a federal judge delayed the results permitting provisional ballots to be counted. Abrams gave a speech on November 16, not conceding but calling to action. She said: “Concession means to acknowledge an action is right, true or proper. As a woman of conscience and faith, I cannot concede. But my assessment is that the law currently allows no further viable remedy.” Abrams’ lawsuit is her attempt at getting the remedy she desires.