Democrats file lawsuit over Dougherty County absentee ballots

The Georgia Democratic Party, with support of Stacey Abrams’ litigation team, has filed a lawsuit in Dougherty County claiming that voters were denied the opportunity to cast ballots by mail during the general election.

Kurt Kastorf, a member of Abrams' litigation team, said Thursday that the campaign believes the county was slow to mail out absentee ballots. Mailings were held up initially when someone sued Dougherty officials after their name was excluded from the ballot, and later Hurricane Michael's impact delayed government functions, the lawsuit says.

“During October, a confluence of extraordinary circumstances — first a judicial injunction, then a state holiday, then a natural disaster — prevented Dougherty County from coming even close to meeting its statutory deadline for providing absentee ballots to electors,” the complaint, filed Thursday in federal court, said.

Some residents of Dougherty County, which includes the city of Albany, requested ballots by mail and never received them, Kastorf said. Others received them too close to the election and weren’t given enough time to complete and return ballots by the state’s deadline, he said.

The lawsuit requests that the county be forced to count absentee ballots received through Friday as long as they were postmarked by Tuesday, rules already in place for members of the military and residents living overseas. Under current rules, all other absentee ballots must have been received by Election Day to be counted.

The Democratic Party of Georgia is listed as the plaintiff, and the defendants are the members of the Albany/Dougherty County Board of Registration and Elections.

Abrams’ campaign chairwoman, Allegra Lawrence-Hardy, said the goal continues to be making sure all votes cast are counted.

“We are obviously eager to hear from supporters, but this is much bigger than any one campaign,” she said. “This is a country built on democracy. We all get to vote. That’s just part of the promise.”