Sen. Raphael Warnock and Democratic groups are suing the state of Georgia to reverse guidance from Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger saying counties cannot offer Saturday voting ahead of next month’s Senate runoff.
News4Jax reports the suit, filed Monday by the Democratic Party of Georgia, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Warnock campaign, challenges the state’s finding that holding early voting on Nov. 26 the day after a state holiday is illegal.
The suit, filed in Fulton County Superior Court, is requesting a judge rule that the law doesn’t bar counties from holding early voting on Saturday, Nov. 26. The groups are also requesting an emergency hearing and a temporary restraining order to stop Raffensperger from interfering with early voting on that day.
According to the suit, the state’s interpretation hurts Warnock because Democratic voters tend to use early voting on weekends more than Republican supporters.
“Illegal attempts to block Saturday voting are another desperate attempt by career politicians to squeeze the people out of their own democracy and to silence the voices of Georgians,” Quentin Fulks, Warnock’s campaign manager, said in a statement according to News4Jax. “We’re aggressively fighting to protect Georgia voters’ ability to vote on Saturday.”
Raffensperger, who was reelected during last year’s midterm elections, dismissed the lawsuit as Democrats playing politics.
“Instead of muddying the water and pressuring counties to ignore Georgia law, Senator Warnock should be allowing county election officials to continue preparations for the upcoming runoff.”
Under the elections restriction bill Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law in 2021, there are only four weeks before the Senate runoff with Thanksgiving in between. State law requires there be at least five weekdays of early voting beginning Nov. 28 and directs the state’s 159 counties to begin early in-person voting “as soon as possible” in the event of a runoff.
Raffensperger and Deputy Secretary of State Gabriel Sterling told the Associated Press last week that it researched the law and determined that it would be illegal to hold early voting the day after a state holiday, which cuts out two days of early voting, Thanksgiving and the following Friday.
Warnock’s campaign and state Democrats say the bar on holiday voting only applies to primary and general elections, but not runoffs. The groups add reading the law in another way would mandate early voting on Nov. 19 which is impossible because state officials do not plan to certify the midterm results until Nov. 21.
The Georgia runoff between Sen. Warnock and Republican nominee Herschel Walker has been a close one as neither candidate received 50% of the vote during the midterm election, sending the race into a runoff. Republicans currently lead the Senate count 49-48 in favor of Republicans. If Democrats win the runoff they will have control of the Senate with Vice President Kamala Harris serving as the tie-breaking vote.