Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Cloudy 31° Cloudy
News >  Nation/World

Georgia sued over ban on runoff voting on Saturday after Thanksgiving

Nov. 15, 2022 Updated Tue., Nov. 15, 2022 at 9:02 p.m.

By Mark Niesse The Atlanta Journal-Constitution The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

ATLANTA – Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock and the Democratic Party of Georgia filed a lawsuit Tuesday that seeks to reverse the state’s prohibition on early voting on the Saturday after Thanksgiving and the state holiday formerly known as Robert E. Lee’s Birthday.

The suit urges a judge to declare that Saturday voting is allowed in the runoff for U.S. Senate and rule against Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s interpretation of a state law that he believes limits Saturday voting.

Warnock faces Republican Herschel Walker in a runoff on Dec. 6 after neither candidate received more than 50% of the vote in last week’s election.

“Illegal attempts to block Saturday voting are another desperate attempt by career politicians to squeeze the people out of their own democracy and to silence the voices of Georgians,” said Quentin Fulks, Warnock’s campaign manager. “We’re aggressively fighting to protect Georgia voters’ ability to vote on Saturday.”

Walker’s campaign didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Raffensperger said Warnock shouldn’t pressure and confuse counties trying to prepare for the runoff.

“If recent elections prove one thing, it’s that voters expect candidates to focus on winning at the ballot box – not at the courthouse,” Raffensperger said. “Sen. Warnock and his Democratic Party allies are seeking to change Georgia law right before an election based on their political preferences.”

Under Georgia’s voting law passed last year, runoffs are held four weeks after the general election. In previous years, runoffs were scheduled nine weeks after the initial election, as in 2020, when Democrats Warnock and U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff won their seats.

An older law passed in 2016 restricts Saturday voting if there’s a holiday within two days beforehand, but the lawsuit alleges that changes to Georgia statutes since then mean that limitation only applies to regularly scheduled elections – not runoffs.

Five weekdays of early voting are required across Georgia before the runoff, less than the 17 days of early voting mandated before general and primary elections.

County governments have the option of offering additional early voting days, but the secretary of state’s office issued a memo Saturday informing counties that those days must exclude Saturday, Nov. 26.

For decades until late 2015, Georgia had a state holiday on the day after Thanksgiving memorializing Robert E. Lee, the Confederate general during the Civil War.

Gov. Nathan Deal changed the day’s name to a more neutral title, “State Holiday,” which is still observed on the same day of the calendar.

Raffensperger’s office has said the timing of both the state holiday and Thanksgiving prevents early voting on the following Saturday.

But the plaintiffs in the lawsuit allege the secretary of state is misreading the law and limiting a critical voting opportunity.

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

Local journalism is essential.

Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.

Active Person

Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox

Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.