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Judge dismisses GOP lawsuit against Georgia absentee voting rules

A federal judge on Thursday rejected a Republican lawsuit seeking to change Georgia's absentee voting procedures ahead of two Senate runoff elections next month, according to media reports.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that U.S. District Court Judge J. Randal Hall dismissed the lawsuit from the 12th Congressional District Republican Committee during a hearing on Thursday.

Hall, a George W. Bush appointee, said the plaintiffs' allegations that the absentee ballot process increases the likelihood of voter fraud was not substantial enough to warrant changing the rules amid a runoff election.

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“We are not even on the eve of an election,” Hall said, according to the Journal-Constitution. "We are, as it relates to this particular election, closing in on halftime.”

The committee had asked the judge to prohibit the use of drop boxes for absentee ballots and impose strict signature verification processes.

Early in-person and absentee voting has already begun for the two Georgia runoff elections to be held on Jan. 5 that will decide which party has control of the Senate as President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenSchumer vows to advance two-pronged infrastructure plan next month Biden appoints veteran housing, banking regulator as acting FHFA chief Iran claims U.S. to lift all oil sanctions but State Department says 'nothing is agreed' MORE takes office.

The lawsuit is part of a GOP legal effort to make it harder for the two Democratic Senate candidates to replicate Biden's success in Georgia, the first time a Democratic presidential nominee had won there since 1992.

Democrats Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff are challenging incumbent GOP Sens. Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerLoeffler meets with McConnell amid speculation of another Senate run Herschel Walker skips Georgia's GOP convention Georgia agriculture commissioner launches Senate campaign against Warnock MORE and David PerdueDavid PerdueLoeffler meets with McConnell amid speculation of another Senate run Georgia agriculture commissioner launches Senate campaign against Warnock Georgia Republican secretary of state hits Loeffler as 'weak,' 'fake Trumper' MORE, respectively. The two Georgia Republicans have filed another federal legal challenge against the state's election rules.

Hall is expected to issue a written decision soon following Thursday's hearing.