georgia ballot box vote

ATLANTA – A federal judge has ruled a series of lawsuits challenging the election reform law the General Assembly enacted last March may move forward.

This story also appeared in Capitol Beat News Service

U.S. District Judge J.P. Boulee Thursday denied motions to dismiss suits filed by civil and voting rights group opposed to Senate Bill 202.

The controversial measure, which the Republican-controlled legislature passed along party lines, replaces the signature-match verification process for absentee ballots with an ID requirement, restricts the location of ballot drop boxes and prohibits non-poll workers from handing out food and drinks within 150 feet of voters standing in line.

Boulee ruled that the groups had legal standing to sue because they suffered harm from the election law in that it forced them to divert funds and other resources from other priorities to fight the measure.

The judge also declared the groups have sufficient cause to make a claim against the defendants, including Gov. Brian Kemp, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and the Republican National Committee.

Representatives of the plaintiffs praised the judge’s ruling.

“The right to vote is one of the most fundamental freedoms of a democracy and one of the most important ways people can advocate for themselves and their communities,” said Poy Winichakul, staff attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center.  

“As the litigation proceeds, we believe it will become even clearer how S.B. 202 was based on a false and dangerous narrative about past elections, erects unlawful barriers to voting, and places undue burdens on Georgians.”

“Georgia’s anti-voter law makes it harder to vote for Georgia’s citizens of color and citizens with disabilities, and we look forward to continue to fight this law in court,” added Rahul Garabadu, voting rights staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia.

Georgia Republican leaders say the lawsuits are a politically motivated effort aimed at a legitimate attempt to restore election integrity in Georgia and prevent voter fraud.

This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.

Dave Williams/Capitol Beat

Dave Williams is bureau chief for Capitol Beat News Service, a service of the Georgia Press Education Foundation.