The judge ruled that Saturday’s vote could take place in November. 26 Senate runoff election in Georgia


ATLANTA – A Georgia judge has ruled that the Senate will be closed in a closely watched Senate runoff between Democratic incumbent Raphael G. Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker. Early voting is available on Saturdays.

In a ruling Friday afternoon, Judge Thomas A. Cox Jr. found that the provision of the Secretary of State’s office citing a ban on Saturday voting in Georgia’s elections law “does not expressly prohibit counties from holding early ballots for the Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022 election. .”

The court further noted that Georgia “has no fixed law on this specific issue,” but the state legislature’s intention was “obvious” to omit any specific reference to a runoff in the law.

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The ruling was a victory for Democrats and voting rights advocates who had argued the law was vague and did not apply to a runoff election.

Officials in the secretary of state’s office initially ruled that this year’s runoff could be voted on Saturday, but reversed course after discovering a provision in the election law that prohibited voting in the days following the holiday. The Saturday at issue in the case would be two days after Thanksgiving and one day after a state holiday honoring Confederate generals until 2015. robert lee.

The Democrats filed the lawsuit shortly after the state issued guidelines to counties recommending against voting on Saturday.

“I’m pleased with the judge’s decision. Obviously, I think it’s the right decision,” Warnock said Friday night at a rally on the Georgia Tech campus. “We should want every eligible voter to have the opportunity to cast a ballot, and not have Saturday voting penalize working-class people.”

“I want to encourage everyone to vote early and make sure your voice is heard,” he added.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, right, said the ruling should not be the end of the line in resolving the issue.

“We disagree with the court’s order and look forward to an immediate appeal,” Raffensperger said in a statement.

The decision on whether to appeal the case will be made by the state’s attorney general, Chris Carr, a Republican. An appeals court could issue a stay order preventing counties from allowing voting on Nov. 11. 26.

Walker’s campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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The ruling doesn’t necessarily mean there will be a vote Saturday; Georgia counties must decide whether to hold early voting hours on Nov. 11. 26, requiring additional time and resources from poll workers and election workers. More lawsuits may also be filed if the case is appealed.

“The judge explained very clearly that the text, structure and history of the election law were at odds with the state’s harshly literal interpretation of the law to prevent Saturday’s vote,” said Anthony Michael Chris, professor of constitutional and legal history. Kreis) at Georgia State University. “It doesn’t make sense to apply the same criteria to a short-term runoff as to a general election with early voting weeks in advance.”

Chatham, Cobb, Dekalb and Fulton counties have passed trigger policies directing election workers to conduct Saturday ballots if the courts rule it legal.

Sabrina Rodriguez contributed to this report.

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