Amid persistent challenges stemming from last month’s election results in a handful of key swing states, upcoming U.S. Senate runoff races in Georgia are set to face more scrutiny than usual.
According to Politico, a federal judge ordered two of the state’s counties to reverse purges of the voter rolls due to reported verification inconsistencies.
“Removed to another state”
Next month’s runoff elections will determine the balance of power in the Senate for the upcoming term, so the recent court ruling could potentially play a significant role in the outcome.
The challenges stem from complaints brought by two Georgia voters, each of whom told their respective county boards that roughly 4,000 voters should be removed over evidence found in a publicly available registration database. That information appeared to prove that the voters had since moved out of the state.
As Muscogee County’s Ralph Russell successfully argued: “I believe that each of the individuals named … as a result of registering their name and change of address to a location outside of Muscogee County, removed to another state with the intention of making the new state their residence.”
That county board ruled in his favor with a 3-1 vote. In Ben Hill County, the board similarly found in favor of resident Tommy Roberts’ position.
Of course, Democratic Party-aligned attorneys quickly reacted with disdain over the perceived attempt to suppress Georgia voters and launched a suit to reverse the decision in both counties.
Judge orders reversal
This week, Judge Leslie Abrams Gardner, whose sister is former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacy Abrams, ruled in favor of lawyer Marc Elias in his quest to reverse the twin purges of the counties’ voter rolls.
In an 11-page ruling that added the names back to the official list, Gardner argued that there was a lack of proper evidence to remove the names in the first place and that the individuals removed were not notified, which she said robbed them of any chance to correct potentially inaccurate information.
The Muscogee County board was not happy with the decision, however, and demanded that the judge recuse herself because of her relationship with Abrams, who has been active in voter-registration drives across the state ahead of the upcoming races.
“Abrams has a clear interest in the outcome of this proceeding and other similarly situated litigation in Georgia due to her voting advocacy through projects such as Fair Fight and the New Georgia Project,” asserted attorneys for the board.
Gardner has declined to recuse herself, however, stirring up even more controversy with just a week until the election.