DENIED!  No injunction to revive 200,000 canceled Georgia Voter Rolls registrations

Judge Steve C. Jones, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. (Photo: John Disney / ALM)

A federal judge in Atlanta on Wednesday declined to order Georgia’s secretary of state to re-elect nearly 200,000 state residents whose registrations were wrongly canceled by civil rights groups.

In a 34-page order, US District Judge Steve Jones of the Northern District of Georgia strongly encourages[d]”The parties meet” and determine the explanation for “alleged inaccuracies”, if any, on a list of tens of thousands of canceled voter registrations based on allegations that those voters changed their domicile.

Atlanta attorney CK Hoffler is president of the National Bar Association and co-counsel to the sued civil rights organizations. She said on Wednesday even though Jones wouldn’t orthe Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger too Take immediate action to determine which voters may not have been properly removed from the electoral roll, even if their addresses have remained unchanged. The ruling is significant in that it recognizes that there may be inconsistencies in the list of eligible voters for the Secretary of State and a separate list of plaintiffs showing that many of those voters still reside at the same address that they do specified when registering.

“It’s not a total loss for us,” said Hoffler. “It’s not an overall victory for the other side.” And she swore, “The litigation will continue.”

“The ball is in the Secretary of State,” she added. “It is now in the hands of the Secretary of State to look at their list and determine why these discrepancies exist. If there is a single voter, far fewer tens of thousands or over 100,000 who have been disenfranchised due to this process or lack of process that the Secretary of State has used, then this is unacceptable and possibly the greatest form of voter repression the state has seen. “

Bryan Tyson, an attorney representing Raffensperger in the Taylor English Duma offices in Atlanta, referred questions about the judge’s decision to the Secretary of State.

However, in a plea filed Wednesday shortly before Jones’ decision, Tyson noted that Raffensperger’s position “is unchanged on this case, or for any other issue that individuals claim is problematic for the 2020 election: bring details with you , and the secretary can evaluate it to see if there is a problem. “

Raffenperger will then “check it out in due course,” he said.

However, given the schedule for the January 5 Senate runoff, Tyson suggested, “There appears to be no way forward to determine whether the lists provided by plaintiffs contain records that should not have been moved [to] inactive status in 2015. “

A Raffensperger spokesman did not immediately respond to whether the state secretary or attorney would meet with the plaintiffs attorney, as the judge suggested. Instead, Raffensperger published a statement stating, “This lawsuit by left-wing groups – like the most recent from the right – was based on the assumption of unqualified” experts “drawn from shoddy analysis.”

“This office will stand regardless of criticism of the law and monitor fair and accurate elections open to all eligible voters – but only eligible voters in Georgia,” said the secretary.

Raffensperger called the voter purge “routine list maintenance,” which he said took place last year.

It is about what is commonly referred to as “use or lose” – a practice branded as a form of voter suppression by civil rights and voting organizations that claim that people are being deprived of their right to vote, simply because they do refuse to choose routinely exercise it.

In an effort to keep accurate electoral rolls, Georgia is allowing registered voters to be removed from electoral rolls if they have been out of contact with an electoral officer for three years, do not return a postcard confirming voters, and then fail to vote in the next two federal elections. The Georgian Foreign Secretary has relied on a third-party provider to track changes of address made available to the U.S. Postal Service.

The removal of tens of thousands of potentially legal voters from the list is of particular importance this year when control of the U.S. Senate depends on the outcome of the January 5 runoff, with U.S. Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, both Republicans, are faced against Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock in polls that stay head to head.

Attorneys include Hoffler, who is also the chairman of the Rainbow Push Coalition; Fred Gray, a veteran Alabama civil rights attorney who received Dr. Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks represented; Jeanne Ellen Mirer of Mirer Mazzocchi & Julien in New York City; and Maria Banjo, a Georgia civil rights attorney and former DeKalb County district attorney.

The Republican National Committee and the Republican Party of Georgia intervened in the case on behalf of the Secretary of State. The GOP is represented by Cameron Norris and Tyler Green from Consovoy McCarthy and seasoned Atlanta election attorney Douglas Chalmers from Chalmers & Adams.

On his behalf, Jones honored the Black Voters Matter Fund, the Rainbow Push Coalition, the Transformative Justice Coalition, and the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project.

“Voting organizations have been found to have suffered irreparable harm, different from that of individual voters, if the non-cease-and-desist organizations remained frustrated,” he said.

Citing a recent U.S. Court of Appeals ruling for the Eleventh Circuit in Atlanta denying efforts by supporters of President Donald Trump to stop the Georgian presidential election certification, Jones said he would not issue an injunction, because the appeals court has repeatedly stressed that lower federal courts should not normally change the electoral rules on the eve of an election. “

Jones also said the plaintiff civil rights groups “did not show any individual voter was prevented from re-registering” before the January 5 runoff deadline of December 7th.

“In fact, the testimony at the evidence hearing showed that many of the people on the list of canceled registrations in 2019 re-registered to vote due to contact efforts,” the judge said in his order.

Plaintiffs, he continued, “have rightly stated that restricting an individual’s right to vote is often an irreparable violation.

“However, the plaintiffs do not show how irreparably harming these voters will cause irreparable harm [them], “he added.” Had they claimed that their members were suffering this irreparable harm, they might have been able to demonstrate that they too would suffer irreparable harm. “