Senate races

Georgia judge rules against civil rights groups on voter registrations

A Georgia judge has denied a push from civil rights groups to force the state’s secretary of State to add 40,000 recently registered voters to the rolls, a setback for groups working to register minority voters that could have a big impact on Georgia’s hotly contested races next week.

{mosads}Judge Christopher Brasher has declined to issue a writ of mandamus filed by Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the New Georgia Project and the Georgia branch of the NAACP that would have forced Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R) and local counties to make sure the voters the New Georgia Project and the NAACP had registered can vote next week.

The suit was brought by the groups after roughly one third of the more than 100,000 mostly minority voters they’d registered hadn’t appeared on the rolls, potentially disenfranchising thousands of mostly Democratic voters. The decision could lead to chaos next week as they try to vote and are forced to do so provisionally, and may well lead to additional legal challenges after the election.

Georgia has a number of close races including tight Senate and gubernatorial battles and a hard-fought reelection fight for Rep. John Barrow (D). 

The groups that lost the court decision are furious — and are already hinting at further legal action.

“We are deeply disappointed by Judge Brasher’s decision, which acknowledges the burdens placed on voters but does not provide them with the relief of knowing that they will be permitted to vote in this election,” Georgia state Rep. Stacey Abrams (D), the head of the New Georgia Project, said in a statement. “The inadequate remedy of a provisional ballot should disturb every Georgian who values the right to vote. The New Georgia Project will continue to pursue all legal avenues available, not only to serve the voters that we know may be silenced in this election, but to bring transparency and progress to those who wish to exercise their franchise in the future.”

Others suggested the judge was playing politics.

“A Republican-appointed judge has backed the Republican Secretary of State to deny the right to vote to a largely African-American and Latino population. It is outrageous that Georgians’ rights are being ignored,” Dr. Francys Johnson, president of the Georgia Conference of the NAACP, said in a statement.

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