A ruling by the Georgia Court of Appeals Monday means counties can offer an early vote in next Saturday’s US Senate runoff between Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker.
The appeals court denied a state request to stay a lower court’s decision that state law allows for an early vote that day.
Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger had told county election officials that early voting couldn’t take place that day because state law says it’s illegal on a Saturday if the preceding Thursday or Friday is a holiday.
Warnock’s campaign team, along with the Georgia Democratic Party and the Democratic Campaign Committee, filed a senatorial lawsuit against these guidelines last week.
Thursday is Thanksgiving and Friday is a state holiday. The Saturday following those two holidays is the only chance to vote on the Saturday before next month’s Senate runoff between Warnock and Walker.
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Thomas Cox issued an order Friday siding with the Warnock campaign and Democratic groups. He noted that the state-led law about voting on Saturday after a holiday does not apply to a runoff.
State attorneys appealed Monday to the Georgia Court of Appeals. They asked the court to suspend the judgment of the lower court immediately.
They argued in a court filing that the ruling was flawed on procedural grounds, but also that Cox wrongly viewed the runoff as an election in its own right and not a continuation of the general election.
The Georgia Court of Appeals Monday declined in a single sentence to stay the lower court’s verdict.
It’s not clear how many counties will open polling stations for voting on Saturday.
Warnock and Walker, a former soccer player, faced a runoff on December 6 because neither won a majority in that month’s midterm elections.
Georgia’s 2021 election law has reduced the period between the general election and the runoff to four weeks, with Thanksgiving in between. Many Georgians will only be offered early in-person voting five days a week from November 28.