Republican Party seeks to reverse Georgia absentee deadline ruling

Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna McDaniel speaks during the first night of the Republican National Convention from the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium in Washington, Monday, Aug. 24, 2020. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

The Republican National Committee is getting involved in an appeal over absentee ballot deadlines in Georgia, making it the 20th state where the Republican Party is fighting election lawsuits.

The RNC and the Georgia Republican Party filed a motion Monday urging the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a judge’s order that absentee ballots should be counted if they’re postmarked by Election Day and received at election offices within three days afterward.

The ruling from U.S. District Judge Eleanor Ross invalidated a state law requiring all absentee ballots to be received by county election officials by 7 p.m. on Election Day.

“Georgia voters have more than ample opportunity to vote,” according to the RNC’s amicus brief supporting a stay of Ross' ruling. “The Election Day deadline is constitutional in normal times, and it is constitutional now as well. Both before COVID-19 and now, the law imposes only minimal burdens.”

ExploreCourts will decide Georgia voting rights — and maybe election results

Ross decided Aug. 31 that voters needed a later deadline to return absentee ballots during the coronavirus pandemic, which drove up the number of absentee voters and increased the health risk of in-person voting. Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger quickly appealed.

Over 1.2 million Georgia voters had requested absentee ballots through Monday, according to state election data.

The RNC motion also argues that the extended absentee ballot deadline would unfairly cover only the 17 counties listed as defendants, which include the state’s most populated areas that tend to vote for Democratic Party candidates.

Attorneys for the plaintiffs, led by the voter registration group the New Georgia Project, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday. Some of the plaintiffs' attorneys frequently represent the Democratic National Committee and other Democratic Party organizations.

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