Though Boulee ruled against the plaintiffs’ request for immediate action, the underlying lawsuit against Georgia’s voting law remains pending in federal court.
The case is different from the voting rights litigation filed last month by the U.S. Department of Justice that opposes voter ID requirements, ballot drop box limits, provisional ballot rejections and a ban on volunteers handing out food and water to voters waiting in line.
This lawsuit, one of eight filed against the voting law, opposed prohibitions on observing voters casting ballots on brightly lit touchscreens, reporting problems to anyone but election officials, estimating absentee ballots cast and photographing voted ballots.
“This is just another in the line of frivolous lawsuits against Georgia’s election law based on misinformation and lies. We will continue to meet them and beat them in court,” Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said.
Marilyn Marks, executive director of the Coalition for Good Governance, said the voting law endangers election transparency and integrity. She will continue to ask the courts to step in before municipal and special elections this fall.
“We’re concerned about the voter confusion that will no doubt occur with these little-known rapid changes to the rules, including the required information on ballot applications and the short deadline for applications to be received in this last week before the election,” Marks said.
The judge’s order relied on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that said courts generally shouldn’t change existing rules when elections are imminent. Known as the Purcell principle, based on the 2006 case Purcell v. Gonzalez, the court found that altering election rules could bewilder voters and discourage them from participating.
Early voting is underway for two state House elections that will conclude on election day Tuesday.
In Cobb County, Republican Devan Seabaugh faces Democrat Priscilla Smith in a contest to replace former state Rep. Bert Reeves, a Republican from Marietta who resigned to take a job at Georgia Tech.
In a South Georgia race, Republicans Leesa Hagan and Wally Sapp are seeking the seat of former state Rep. Greg Morris, a Republican from Vidalia who will serve on the State Transportation Board.
Eight lawsuits are pending against Georgia’s new election law in federal court. They have all been assigned to U.S. District Judge J.P. Boulee, who ruled against a request to immediately intervene in one of the lawsuits. The underlying case is still pending. It could take years for the cases to work their way through the federal court system.
Contested parts of Georgia voting law
Observation limits: Anyone who intentionally observes a voter while casting a ballot in a way that would allow that person to see how a voter is voting could face felony charges.
Gag rule: Election monitors and observers can’t communicate any information they see from the processing and scanning of absentee ballots to anyone except election officials.
Estimation ban: Election monitors and observers aren’t allowed to estimate the number of absentee ballots cast.
Photography restrictions: Photography of voted ballots isn’t allowed.
Application deadline: Voters must request absentee ballots at least 11 days before election day.
Source: Senate Bill 202