Georgia appeals absentee ballot deadline extension

The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has appealed a federal judge’s ruling that absentee ballots postmarked by Election Day should be counted.

The case will be considered by the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals after U.S. District Judge Eleanor Ross last week nullified a Georgia law requiring absentee ballots to be received at county election offices by 7 p.m. on Election Day.

Attorneys for Raffensperger wrote that the coronavirus pandemic doesn’t justify altering election rules so near the time when voters will begin receiving absentee ballots late this month.

“Changing the deadline to return absentee ballots will introduce delay and confusion in the election process. This, in turn, risks delaying the Electoral College process and disenfranchising voters in Georgia, including preventing voters from casting ballots in runoff elections,” the attorneys wrote in a motion Friday to stay Ross’ preliminary injunction while the appeal is pending.

A later absentee ballot deadline leaves election officials little time to certify results by Nov. 20, the state’s attorneys wrote. In addition, voters might have less time to correct problems with their absentee ballots, such as missing signatures, mismatched signatures or a failure to provide required information.

Ross ruled on a lawsuit by the New Georgia Project, a voter registration organization, that voters needed to be protected during the pandemic, when record numbers of Georgians are expected to cast absentee ballots.

If her decision stands, it could result in tens of thousands more absentee ballots being counted. Ross ordered election officials to accept absentee ballots if they’re postmarked by Nov. 3 and delivered up to three days afterward.

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