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Georgia officials sued over Saturday poll closure in Senate runoff

Sen. Raphael Warnock and Democratic groups are suing after Georgia’s secretary of state disallowed voting on Nov. 26, the Saturday after Thanksgiving.


UPDATE (Nov. 18, 2022, 5:38 p.m. ET): A Fulton County superior court judge on Friday said Georgia can hold early voting on the Saturday following the Thanksgiving holiday.

Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., the Georgia Democratic Party and the National Democratic Senatorial Committee are suing the state of Georgia over the closure of polls on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, ahead of the state’s Dec. 6 Senate runoff

Despite Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger initially saying that Saturday voting would likely be allowed in some counties on Nov. 26, his office told county officials that, upon further evaluation, state law prohibits voting on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. 

“[I]f the second Saturday before the runoff follows a Thursday or Friday that is a state holiday, voting on that Saturday is not allowed,” Raffensperger’s office told county officials in a bulletin last weekend.

The lawsuit filed Tuesday says Raffensperger and Co. are misreading the law, claiming it wasn’t meant to apply to runoffs, which already offer voters less time to participate than general and primary elections. 

In Georgia, the Friday after Thanksgiving has been a state holiday honoring “Robert E. Lee’s birthday” (the traitorous general was actually born in January), but it’s now known simply as a “state holiday” after a name change in 2015. So Georgia’s Republican election officials are effectively using the Thanksgiving holiday and the specter of a Confederate general to hinder the re-election chances of Georgia’s first Black senator. 

All of this is an issue of Georgia Republicans’ making. 

The voter suppression law they passed last year (which is under investigation by the Department of Justice) cut the time between general elections and runoffs by more than half — from nine weeks to four. The official window for early voting in next month’s runoff is just five days, from Nov. 28 through Dec. 2. But the lawsuit filed by Democrats argues that not only should there be voting on Nov. 26, but Raffensperger’s interpretation of the statute allows for voting on the previous Saturday (Nov. 19) as well.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution was smart to note: Conspicuously, there was no objection to early voting on a Saturday before the last U.S. Senate runoff three years ago, even though it was the day after Christmas. Interesting.

Raffensperger and his lackeys have rushed to defend the Saturday decision. That includes Gabriel Sterling, the chief operating officer under Raffensperger.

Together, Raffensperger and Sterling have tried to paper over voter suppression in Georgia, seemingly looking to legitimize elections that have been systematically rigged in Republicans’ favor

But facts don’t care about their feelings.

Warnock has already gotten more votes than Herschel Walker in a head-to-head election this year. Republicans know their best chance of electing Walker is to keep voter participation low. And they appear to be using every tool at their disposal to make that happen.