Judge officially blocks Georgia from tossing out absentee ballots

Judge officially blocks Georgia from tossing out absentee ballots
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A federal district judge in Georgia on Thursday formally blocked election officials in the state from tossing out absentee ballots when a voter’s signature does not exactly match the signature on their voter registration card.
 
Judge Leigh Martin May said in the final order that all ballots where a signature mismatch is perceived should be treated as a provisional ballot.
 
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May, a judge on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, announced on Wednesday she planned to issue the injunction, but gave state officials until noon on Thursday to comment on what to do with disputed ballots.
 
Her order comes in a lawsuit the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed on behalf of the Georgia Muslim Voter Project against Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who is running for governor, and county registrars. The group is challenging the state law that allows election officials to reject an absentee ballot if they think there's a signature mismatch in the voter’s paperwork.
 
In her final order Thursday, May said disputed ballots should be held separate and apart from the other absentee ballots and elections official should then send voters a pre-rejection notice and given then an opportunity to resolve the issue.
 
“This process shall be done in good faith and is limited to confirming the identity of the absentee voter consistent with existing voter identification laws,” she said.
 
Lawyers for the Georgia Attorney General's Office argued in their response to the order that the hearing and appeals process is unworkable given the need to have votes counted and the Nov. 6 election certified by Nov. 12.
 
The injunction only applied to absentee ballot applications and absentee ballots submitted for this election that are rejected solely based on the signature.
 
May said the injunction does not apply to voters who have already cast an in-person vote.