The Lawyers’ Committee suit argues that “signature committees” should be created to review possible mismatches and that procedures for notifying residents about rejected ballots should be improved.
“The risk increases every day that an absentee voter will not receive a rejection letter until it’s too late,” ACLU legal director Sean Young argued Tuesday.
But Gwinnett County officials say new requirements introduced before next month’s election would be a burden.
“Requiring another review or further new procedures at this point in the process will require taking workers who are stretched to the limit with required election-related tasks to repeat their review of absentee ballot applications and absentee ballots,” the county argued in its written response.
Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp hit the road on separate bus tours around the state Friday while accusations fly from each campaign.
May asked many questions during the hearing but did not rule from the bench. The judge said she would issue an order in the coming days.
She raised questions about whether there is “adequate procedural due process” for residents whose absentee ballots are rejected because of their signatures.
May asked attorneys multiple times for their thoughts on allowing hearings for those potential absentee voters. Such mechanisms already exist for voters whose ballots are rejected due to other eligibility questions.
“The system is already in place,” May said.
Gwinnett County was targeted alongside Kemp in both suits because, as an analysis by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found, it has rejected a disproportionate number of absentee ballots and applications. Only about one-sixth of Gwinnett's rejections, though, were due to signature issues, according to recent legal filing.
In a response to the ACLU-led suit filed Monday, attorneys for Gwinnett said that, through Oct. 18, the county had rejected 713 absentee ballot applications and another 524 absentee ballots. Those stats did not include another 253 absentee ballots canceled because the voter ultimately chose to vote in person, the county’s filing said.
Of the more than 1,200 ballots or ballot applications rejected, less than 200 were due to alleged signature mismatches, Gwinnett officials said.
The vast majority of the other rejections were attributed to missing information, they said.
Overall, the county has processed nearly 23,000 absentee ballot applications and 7,000 absentee ballots. Officials have repeatedly said the county is merely following state law.
“Inserting any hiccup into the system … has the potential to radically effect the way counties are able to discharge their duties,” attorney Russ Willard said.
He called the plaintiffs’ motions “back-of-the-napkin, scribbling relief requests.”
Both filings homed in on Georgia's controversial "exact match" law, which requires voter registration information to match driver's licenses, state ID cards or Social Security records. Tens of thousands of potential voters across the state are in limbo due to law, according to yet another federal lawsuit that's attempting to overturn exact match.
But those voters, whose registrations are in pending status, can still cast ballots in November’s elections if they present valid ID.