Fair Fight Action and other plaintiffs must repay the state over $231,000 after the organization lost its lawsuit that alleged Georgia laws violated voting rights, according to a court order Tuesday.
The costs include nearly $193,000 for trial and deposition transcripts and over $38,000 for copies of thousands of exhibits the state used in the four-year case that started after Democrat Stacey Abrams’ loss to Republican Brian Kemp in the 2018 race for governor.
“This is a win for taxpayers and voters who knew all along that Stacey Abrams’ voter suppression claims were false. It has never been easier to vote and harder to cheat in the state of Georgia,” Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said. “This is a start, but I think Stacey Abrams should pay back the millions of taxpayer dollars the state was forced to spend to disprove her false claims.”
Overall, the cost to taxpayers in defending the lawsuit in federal court was nearly $6 million, according to the attorney general’s office.
But only $231,000 of that amount was recovered from the plaintiffs through the court’s order. Attorney fees for the government’s lawyers won’t be repaid.
U.S. District Judge Steve Jones ruled against Fair Fight Action on all counts in September, dismissing allegations that the state’s voting laws were illegal or discriminatory.
The plaintiffs had challenged Georgia’s “exact match” voter registration policy, absentee ballot cancellation practices and registration inaccuracies that arose from voters who alleged problems in the 2018 and 2020 elections.
Jones found that while Georgia’s election system was imperfect, it didn’t violate the U.S. Constitution or the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits racial discrimination in elections.
Fair Fight Action spokeswoman Xakota Espinoza said Raffensperger has failed to make improvements suggested by the judge to prevent problems with voter registrations of former felons and new citizens.
“While the secretary of state’s inaction is shameful, it is far from surprising,” Espinoza said. “Raffensperger has never wavered in his commitment to disregarding voters’ concerns, ignoring barriers, scapegoating elections administration, and sowing confusion in Georgia’s elections.”
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Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC