As election day approaches, more than a dozen court battles over Georgia’s electoral system are still raging.

What’s happening: The pending lawsuits challenge various components of Georgia’s electoral system, from the latest electoral redistribution maps to the state’s voting machines.

The bottom line: The litigation is unlikely to significantly affect Georgia’s electoral administration in time for November. Most have yet to go to court.

Yes but: A case challenging the structure of Georgia’s Public Service Commission districts, Rose v. Raffensperger, has just concluded its trial, and the judge has promised a decision by August 12.

  • If Judge Steven Grimberg rules in favor of the plaintiffs (who argue that counties are disenfranchising black voters), it could invalidate the recent Civil Service Commission primaries and even force a postponement of the November commission races.

Here’s a breakdown of where things stand:

The Lawsuit of Fair Fight 2018

Driving the news: The six-week trial for this case recently concluded, three and a half years after Stacey Abrams announced that he would challenge the constitutionality of Georgia’s electoral system following her defeat in 2018.

Game Status: While the original complaint was very broad, a federal judge narrowed the issues down to the state’s citizenship verification process, the “exact match” policy, ballot cancellation training for poll workers, and the accuracy of the state’s electoral roll.

Threat Level: A ruling in Fair Fight’s favor could have implications for November, but if the state appeals, the implications could be postponed.

Remarkable: A separate lawsuit, Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda v. Raffensperger, filed ahead of the 2018 election, aims to completely scrap the state’s longstanding citizenship verification process. The parties are awaiting a possible decision from a federal judge.

SB 202: The 2021 Election Overhaul

1. To: SB 202 consolidated many lawsuits making similar arguments against the state’s controversial Republican-led 2021 election law. The Department of Justice, Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta, Black Voters Matter Fund and GALEO are among eight plaintiffs challenging various parts of the electoral policy overhaul.

  • The complaints allege voter disenfranchisement and disproportionate new burdens on black and pro-democracy voters.

Game Status: The only part of the new law that plaintiffs have asked a judge to freeze ahead of November’s election is the ban on “line relief,” or a new rule preventing third parties from handing out water and snacks to voters in line .

The big picture: The case will continue to build, likely with data from November’s elections, and it could go to trial.

2. VoteAmerica vs. Raffensperger is a case focusing on the restrictions on mail-in voting for third-party advocacy groups that the new law enacted.

Game Status: A judge denied the plaintiff’s request to drop some of the absentee voting records for the November election. Data from 2022 is also likely to be used as evidence collection continues for both parties.

3. Vote.org vs. Georgia State Election Board is banking on the new law’s “wet signature” rule, which requires absentee ballot applications to be signed with pen and ink, as opposed to a digital signature.

  • Vote.org is a website with its own digital platform for applying for absentee ballots. Plaintiffs argue that the provision disenfranchises voters without access to a printer.

Game Status: The lawsuit was filed just a few months ago. The state has requested that they be dismissed.

4th Coalition for Good Governance against Raffensperger adopts several parts of the new law, including a ban on photographing recorded ballots, a new ability for the state Elections Commission to take over election administration in a troubled county, and other postal voting provisions.

Game Status: With this lawsuit, it was possible to obtain the only temporary injunction before November. Federal Judge JP Boulee ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, halting implementation of the specific provision prohibiting ballot photography while the case is pending. (The existing ban on photography in polling stations remains in place.)

voting machines

The case of Curling v. Raffensperger, filed in 2017, is all about the state’s voting machines and the use of technology in its voting system, including scanners and ballot books. It has evolved a lot since it was first submitted, just like the electoral system in Georgia.

  • The original complaint, filed by activists campaigning for handwritten paper ballots nationwide, alleges weaknesses in the voting system used in the 2017 6th Circuit special election. Now it includes the Dominion voting machines introduced by Georgia in 2019.

Game Status: Lawyers are still collecting evidence on this case. They are currently investigating an investigation by the Secretary of State into problems with Coffee County’s election administration.

  • The far-reaching case has far more record entries than any other pending electoral lawsuit.

The Intrigue: Some of the case files were used by former President Trump’s allies to question Georgia’s Dominion voting machines. A December 2020 draft by the Trump administration proposing to seize voting machines, which was never enacted, cited a 2020 filing by federal judge Amy Totenberg that found some risks to the system.

redistribution

What’s happening: Aside from the Rose v. Raffensperger lawsuit over the state’s Public Service Commission districts, there are also several lawsuits challenging the recent Republican-led redistribution of Congress and the General Assembly in Georgia.

  • The various parties argue the new maps disenfranchise voters of color.

Game Status: No restraining orders have been issued for these cases, meaning county lines are set for 2022, although the cases are still litigious.