Georgia secretary of state’s office begins defense in voting suit



A lawyer for Georgia’s secretary of state office on Monday began pushing back against claims in a federal lawsuit that the state had illegally obstructed voters from casting ballots in recent elections.

Josh Belinfante launched the state’s defense by questioning Chris Harvey, the state’s former elections division chief.

Harvey said state officials “worked with groups across the political spectrum” in an effort to ensure that elections were fair and voters could easily cast ballots.

The lawsuit against Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and other elections officials is Georgia’s first major voting rights challenge in decades. It was filed by Fair Fight, a group Democrat Stacey Abrams founded following her loss to Republican Brian Kemp in the 2018 election for governor.

In testimony in recent weeks, Fair Fight said Georgia’s “exact match” voter registration rules and inconsistent absentee ballot cancellation practices created difficulties that disproportionately affected Black voters in 2018 and 2020.

The case will be decided by U.S. District Judge Steve Jones in a bench trial, meaning there will be no jury. A decision is expected this summer.

Jones last year dismissed many of Fair Fight’s claims, ruling against challenges to registration cancellations, too few voting machines, inadequate poll worker training and ballot rejections.