A federal judge declines to block Georgia’s shortened 4-week runoff election period

Georgia has legislated a sweeping election law that shortened the Georgia’s runoff election period to four weeks from nine weeks. Legal challenges to the law were rebuked by a Georgia federal judge. The issues and arguments advanced by the challengers to the legislation were race-based.

As reported, U.S. District Judge J.P. Boulee ruled Friday that plaintiffs hadn’t proved “that the shorter period disproportionately harmed Black voters, or that Republican lawmakers intended to discriminate against Black voters when lawmakers enacted the measure in 2021.” Judge Boulee “denied a request for a preliminary injunction.” However, the judge’s ruling did not dismiss the lawsuit challenging the legislation. “The claims can still be litigated at trial.”

“The lawsuits assert that parts of the law deny Black voters equal access to voting and violate the U.S. Constitution and the federal Voting Rights Act.” Judge Boulee ruled there wasn’t enough evidence “that losing the ability to register before a runoff or the ability to vote on some weekend days were discriminatory.”

Judge Boulee ruled: “Plaintiffs did not present any evidence, however, which would show why Black voters would disproportionately struggle to vote during the new early voting period.” Reporting quotes Judge Boulee as elaborating on his rationale: “Evidence showed “at most” that Republican lawmakers were trying to curtail new Democratic voters with the registration restrictions, but said the law doesn’t protect people from partisan discrimination in the same way it does racial discrimination.”

Several voting advocacy groups and what have been characterized as civil rights groups, and also the U.S. Department of Justice, sued “after Republican state lawmakers passed the measure less than six months after former President Donald Trump narrowly lost the state.”

As described in some reporting, “Georgia has an unusual requirement for a runoff election when no candidate wins a majority in a general election. Most states declare the highest vote-getter the winner.” As reported concerning the consequences of Georgia’s “unusual requirement for a runoff election,” that has meant “multiple high-profile contests being settled after the normal November general election date in recent years.”

D & B Staff

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