Federal judge rules against Kemp in Georgia absentee ballot request

A federal district judge in Georgia denied Secretary of State Brian Kemp's request to pause an injunction the judge ordered last week that prevents election officials from tossing out certain absentee ballots.

Judge Leigh Martin May said in an order filed late Tuesday that delaying the injunction “would only cause confusion, as Secretary Kemp has already issued guidance in accordance with the injunction to county elections officials," according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Kemp is also the GOP nominee for governor in next week's election.

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May said last week that she was blocking election officials in the state from throwing out absentee ballots when a resident's signature doesn't exactly match the signature on their voter registration card.

Kemp had requested that May delay the injunction while he appeals the decision to a higher court, the Journal-Constitution reported.

May's initial order came after a lawsuit, brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), against Kemp on behalf of the Georgia Muslim Voter Project. In her order she said ballots with signatures that aren't an exact match should be held by election officials and voters should be given the opportunity to resolve the discrepancy.

“The Court finds that the public interest is best served by allowing qualified absentee voters to vote and have their votes counted,” she wrote in Tuesday's order, according to the Journal-Constitution.

Kemp has faced calls to step aside as secretary of state while he runs for governor, given that he leads the office that oversees Georgia's elections.

His Democratic opponent, Stacey Abrams, is among those who have called on him to resign. Abrams has also accused Kemp of voter suppression in the wake of a news report that said 53,000 voter registration applications are on hold because they failed to meet the state's "exact match" law.

The statute says a voter's registration is considered pending if the information on their application isn't an exact match to the info on the state's Department of Driver Services or the Social Security Administration.

Of the 53,000 applications that are on hold, 70 percent of them are reportedly from black voters.