The Georgia runoff elections are little more than a week away. If Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock win, the Democrats will control the U.S. Senate, with Vice President Kamala Harris serving as a possible tiebreaker for close votes. If Kelly Loeffler or David Perdue (or both) win, it means more painful years of Moscow Mitch McConnell and his obstructionist Republicans standing in the way of everything America so urgently needs.
What will it take for Ossoff and Warnock to emerge victorious on January 5? For starters, they need a fair election. Thankfully, two developments that threatened to make absentee voting unnecessarily and unlawfully difficult for Georgians are no longer a concern. Courts in two separate cases just took action yesterday to ensure that people who vote by absentee ballot won’t be disenfranchised.
Fulton County, which includes nearly all of Atlanta, is Georgia’s most populous of its 159 counties, which means any election-related court ruling is sure to affect a significant number of voters. Naturally, the Republican National Committee and the Georgia Republican Party filed a lawsuit there seeking to lock absentee ballot drop boxes when county election offices close for the day.
Judge Kimberly Esmond Adams dismissed the GOP’s case on Thursday, ruling that Fulton County voters may use drop boxes at any time of day or night, with video surveillance, through January 5. The Georgia State Election Board in April approved a rule requiring all drop boxes in the state to remain open 24 hours, and so Judge Adams refused to carve out an exception for Fulton County, according to reporting from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
In another development yesterday, a federal court approved a settlement aimed at removing an additional set of obstacles for absentee voting. The settlement ends lawsuits brought by civil rights groups including the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and Vote Forward to ensure that Donald Trump and Louis DeJoy’s shenanigans with kneecapping the Postal Service won’t prevent ballots from arriving on time.
The approved settlement agreement requires Georgia postal facilities to sweep for undelivered ballots until January 5 and continue using expedited delivery services for mail-in ballots, according to a report from The Hill. These measures are essential particularly in light of the significant uptick in mail delivery delays this holiday season.
As the late Georgia representative and civil rights icon John Lewis reminded us before the 2016 presidential election, “The vote is precious. It is the most powerful non-violent tool we have in a democratic society, and we must use it.” Thanks to this new pair of legal victories, Georgians can proceed to vote absentee with even greater confidence that their ballot will count and their voice will be heard. The United States is still a democracy.