United States District Judge Leslie Gardner, sister of former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, has blocked two counties in Georgia from removing over 4,000 voters and not permitting them from voting in the upcoming runoff elections on January 5th. This is a runoff election that will help determine which political party takes control of the Senate.
The federal judge took the side of a voter registration group called Majority Forward and “Gamaliel Warren Turner, a Georgia voter, in their challenge to efforts by the boards of elections in Ben Hill County and Muscogee County that targeted a total of 4,185 registered voters,” as reported by CBS News.
Gardner stated that sustained challenges to voter eligibility could risk creating a disenfranchised voter. Her statement went as follows, the CBS News report stated:
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“Failure to grant the injunctive relief could result in eligible voters being denied the right to vote, voters who would otherwise exercise their constitutional right to vote being intimidated or discouraged from doing so, or eligible voters being forced to go to extraordinary lengths during the holiday season and ongoing Covid-19 pandemic to prove that they are eligible to vote,” she 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.”
The voter group, Majority Forward, said the county boards were engaged in unlawful challenges to 152 voters eligibility in one county, and just over 4,000 voters in another county. They cited “inaccurate, unreliable and inconclusive” data taken from the post office’s change of address registry.
Majority Forward wanted the judge to block the boards of elections from removing those voters, which would have made it so they can’t vote in the upcoming runoff election that could determine the fate of the Senate. It would also require said voters to use provisional ballots or come up with additional form of eligibility.
As it turns out, Stacey Abrams sister, Judge Gardner, granted all three requests.
The group asked the judge to block the county boards of elections from removing the voters from their registration lists, preventing them from casting regular ballots in the January 5 runoff elections and requiring them to cast provisional ballots or present additional eligibility. Gardner approved all three requests.
Gardner’s decision has received criticism from Republicans calling it a conflict of interest.
The Georgia runoff election on January 5th is between Republican Kelly Loeffler vs Democrat Raphael Warnock, then another with Republican David Perdue vs Democrat Jon Ossoff.
Both Republicans hold the office as of now, but face mounting challenges on the 5th of January.