Judge allows Georgia voting rights trial to continue

In this file photo, voters cast ballots during the early voting period at C.T. Martin Natatorium and Recreation Center on October 18, 2018 in Atlanta, GA. (Jessica McGowan/Getty Images/TNS)

Credit: TNS

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In this file photo, voters cast ballots during the early voting period at C.T. Martin Natatorium and Recreation Center on October 18, 2018 in Atlanta, GA. (Jessica McGowan/Getty Images/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Defense had asked for the case to be dismissed

The Georgia voting rights case led by Fair Fight Action has survived a midtrial attempt to dismiss after a month of testimony.

U.S. District Judge Steve Jones wrote in an order Monday that he won’t render any judgment until all evidence has been presented.

The decision by Jones means the trial will resume Tuesday, when the defense begins presenting its witnesses and evidence after the plaintiffs rested their case last week. The case has been pending since late 2018 after Democrat Stacey Abrams lost the governor’s race to Republican Brian Kemp.

Jones had been considering the state’s request that he throw out the case. Attorneys for Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger argued that the plaintiffs, which include voting rights groups and churches, failed to prove their allegations that the state’s voting policies disenfranchise voters.

The plaintiffs presented 47 witnesses, including 25 voters, in their effort to show that “exact match” voter registration policies, citizenship verification rules and absentee ballot cancellation practices violate voting laws.

Georgia’s “exact match” policies require voters to verify their ID before they can vote if there are minor inconsistencies in the spelling of their names, including apostrophes or hyphens. The case also targets a citizenship verification process that hindered new U.S. citizens whose records hadn’t been updated. Several witnesses testified about difficulties voting in person after they never received or tried to cancel their absentee ballots.

The defense argued that testimony so far only indicated minor problems facing voters rather than significant hurdles that would require court intervention to change election procedures.

The trial is scheduled to last into June, and then Jones could issue a judgment later this summer.