A federal judge has rejected efforts by elections officials in two Georgia counties to cancel thousands of voter registrations ahead of next week’s key runoff races that will determine control of the U.S. Senate.
U.S. District Judge Leslie Abrams Gardner issued an injunction to block officials in Muscogee and Ben Hill counties from dismissing the registrations.
The restrictive efforts are supported by the Georgia Republican Party and conservative Texas-based True the Vote, and aim to challenge registrations of more than 360,000 voters who recently changed their address. More than 4,000 are in Muscogee and Ben Hill counties.
Most Georgia counties have rejected the effort, but Muscogee and Ben Hill counties required voters on the list to cast provisional ballots for next week’s election — which may or may not be counted after a subsequent review process.
Federal law bars any systemic removal of voters from registration rolls within 90 days of an election. It also only allows removal if voters are notified that their registration is being canceled and they don’t vote for two consecutive federal election cycles.
In her order, Gardner, Obama appointee and the sister of Georgia Democratic leader Stacey Abrams, ruled that removing the registrations would be illegal, particularly because many of the voters on the list were not properly notified.
Georgia will vote to elect both of its U.S. senators in runoff races on Jan. 5. In one race, incumbent GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler faces a challenge from Democrat Raphael Warnock. In the other, incumbent Republican Sen. David Perdue is being challenged by Democrat Jon Ossoff.
Neither Loeffler nor Perdue met the 50% vote threshold in November’s election to hold their seats outright.
If Warnock and Ossoff win, by virtue of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote, Democrats will control the Senate for the first time since 2015.
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