A federal judge on Tuesday found that Gwinnett County violated the Civil Rights Act in its handling of absentee ballots during last week’s midterm elections, a ruling that will likely delay the overall vote tally in the state’s tight gubernatorial race.
U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May wrote in a 17-page order that the county was found to be acting in violation of the Civil Rights Act with its rejection of absentee ballots solely on the basis of an omitted or incorrect birth year.
Tuesday’s ruling was handed down a day after a different federal judge ordered state election officials to preserve and count provisional ballots filed for the governor’s race. That judge also ruled that Georgia election officials cannot certify the election until Friday at 5 p.m.
May’s order said Gwinnett County is hereby “enjoined from rejecting absentee ballots containing an error or omission relating to the absentee voter’s year of birth” and has been ordered to count such ballots in this year’s midterm elections.
May, who was nominated by President Obama, noted that although the decision arrives in the midst of “many hotly contested and highly publicized elections issues across the State,” the relief granted by the order finds the “narrow set of ballots” should be counted.
The ruling also will affect vote tallies in the House race for Georgia’s 7th Congressional District, which is still too close to call. Rep. Rob Woodall (R) is defending his seat against Democratic challenger Carolyn Bourdeaux.
The order stems from a case challenging Georgia’s statutory procedures for rejecting absentee ballot applications and absentee ballots brought by plaintiffs Rhonda J. Martin, Dana Bowers, Jasmine Clark, Smythe DuVal, Jeanne Dufort and the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda against Robyn A. Crittenden, who now serves as Georgia secretary of state following the recent resignation of Kemp from that position.
Source: The Hill