Chalk up another one for the good guys. If Republicans took the effort they have employed in trying to suppress the vote and instead applied it to useful issues, just imagine what we could get accomplished. Numerous suits to suppress votes were filed in Georgia ahead of the Senate runoff scheduled for January 5 to ensure victories for Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue. They have been unsuccessful. In a turn of events, Democracy Forward filed a suit against election officials in Muscogee and Ben Hill Counties to stop the purging of voters from the rolls in those two counties. U.S. District Judge Leslie Abrams Gardner, the sister of Stacey Abrams, ruled that those voters must remain on the rolls.
Ralph Russell, a voter in Muscogee County, challenged the eligibility of 4,033 voters and took his challenge to the Muscogee Board. Russell’s challenge was based on his belief that certain people had made changes of address outside of Muscogee County. He claimed that he compared the Muscogee County voter registration rolls to the National Change of Address Registry to discovery the discrepancies. The Board, with no further evidence, found that “probable cause” existed and placed those voters on a list that would allow them to vote by provisional ballot only. Keep in mind they asked not one of these voters to prove their residency; they merely took Ralph Russell’s word for it, as if Russell is some type of expert. Not surprisingly, Muscogee County was carried overwhelmingly by President-elect Joe Biden.
Similarly, in Ben Hill County, Tommy Roberts, a member of the city council, made a challenge based on the National Change of Address Registry. Like Muscogee County’s election board, Ben Hill County met and determined 152 people ineligible to vote other than by provisional ballot. Muscogee County’s board filed a recusal motion against Judge Gardner, apparently because she is Stacey Abrams’ sister. Why assume that Judge Gardner could not be impartial regardless of her relationship to her sister? Judges are appointed to rule on the law, family notwithstanding, and in this case, the law was not with the two county boards.
These cases reek of attempted voter suppression. Majority Forward, the main Plaintiff in this case, is a non-profit that supports both voter turnout and voter registration. They are on top of issues such as these that seek to limit the ability of people to vote. Majority Forward is represented by Marc E. Elias of Perkins Coie, who is a stanch defender of all types of attempts to suppress the votes of Americans and runs a website called “Democracy Dockets,” where he posts cases such as these and their outcomes to keep us informed. With Republicans working overtime to ensure they retain control at any costs, this organization and its chief litigator help ensure that Republicans’ efforts fail. As a result of their work, Judge Gardner ruled that Defendants’ actions violated federal law and violated the right to vote of the targeted voters, and their votes will be counted with all others on January 5, 2021.
Shirley is a former entertainment writer and has worked in the legal field for over 25 years