Georgia is already embroiled in legal battles as millions of people across the state are voting or preparing to vote in the January 5th Senate runoff election. In the first days of early voting, voters have cast more than 482,000 ballots, approximately one third of total votes in the 2018 statewide general election, Axios reports. That might be why four counties are making it exceedingly difficult for voters to get to the polls.
The New Georgia Project and Democracy Docket, two organizations advocating around voting rights and fair elections, have filed lawsuits in Bibb, Clarke, Houston, and Paulding counties in Georgia. According to the lawsuits, the counties are refusing to offer early voting on “December 19th, December 31st, or on any of the days in January,” which the organizations say is required by law.
“Georgians will be heading to the polls in this critical election under challenging conditions,” the lawsuits filed by the voting rights groups state. As such, the organizations seek “an emergency injunction ordering [the counties] and their officers, agents, servants, employees, and all persons in active concert or participation with them, to provide for advance voting,” the suit adds.
Election officials in the four counties for their part have pointed to a strange loophole to justify their voter suppression, and are claiming that Georgia law only requires early voting on weekends during a primary or general election, but not in a runoff. But the voting rights groups say the actions taken by election officials in these counties threaten “to disenfranchise voters in this critical election.”
In the more than six weeks since the presidential election, Donald Trump and his supporters both in Congress and in the streets have continued to push a false narrative of widespread voter fraud. According to the president and his loyalists, the election was rigged, ultimately leading to President-elect Joe Biden’s win. There is no proof of voter fraud in the presidential election, which is also evidenced by the fact that the Trump campaign has lost more than 30 of its lawsuits challenging the election results.
With that in mind, and the potential for Georgia’s runoff election to solidify Democratic control of the U.S. Senate, this election will undoubtedly face even more scrutiny. That might be why Republicans, including the campaigns of Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, have launched their own attacks on voting rights across the state, filing three separate lawsuits that seek to restrict absentee voting ahead of the election. The suits target the legality of using drop-boxes for absentee ballots and make their signature requirements even more complicated.
Georgia’s runoff appears to be the latest battleground for Republican-led attacks on voting that will surely continue into the next year in response to the nationwide expansion of accessible voting — due to the deadly coronavirus pandemic — in the 2020 presidential election.
But Trump and the GOP’s continued bad faith attacks on voting rights don’t just hurt Democratic voters, they hurt everyone. And we would all be better off rejecting these attacks for what they are: an assault on the most vulnerable communities across the country in an effort to maintain power for the wealthy few.