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Republicans try to stop Saturday voting in Georgia runoff

Republican groups made Tuesday appeals to Georgia’s highest court to prevent early voting in the U.S. Senate race between Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock, and Republican challenger Herschel.

The Georgia Republican Party, National Republican Senatorial Committee, and Republican National Committee all filed an appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court. They ask the court to temporarily suspend a lower court’s ruling which stated that Georgia law allows voting on Saturday.

The runoff Election Day will be held Dec. 6

After Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger gave guidance to county election officials, stating that early voting cannot be conducted on Nov. 26, because it violates state law if it takes place on Saturday and there are holidays on the Thursday or Friday before it. Thursday is Thanksgiving, and Friday is a state holiday.

Together with the Democratic Party of Georgia, Warnock’s campaign and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee , they sued last week in an attempt to contest that guidance. They argued that Saturday early voting is only allowed after a holiday, and not for a runoff.

Thomas Cox, Fulton County Superior Court Judge, sided with the Warnock campaign as well as the Democratic groups. He issued an order Friday stating that Georgia law does not prohibit counties from holding advanced voting on Saturday November 26, 2022 for a runoff election.

Monday’s appeal by the state to that ruling was made to the Georgia Court of Appeals. This is the intermediate appellate court of the state. They claimed that the ruling was flawed for procedural reasons, and that Cox misunderstood to treat the runoff as a separate election from the general election. They requested that the appeals court immediately stop the lower court’s ruling.

Late Monday, the Court of Appeals issued a one-sentence ruling declining to stop the lower court’s order.

Officials from the state accepted this ruling and stated that they would not appeal.

“The Court has done its will. This is something we believe the General Assembly should clarify to avoid future confusion. In an email statement, Mike Hassinger, a spokesperson for the secretary of state, stated that he hoped election workers could enjoy a restful holiday despite the decision.

The Republican groups, which had been allowed as intervenors in the lawsuit, appealed Tuesday to the Georgia Supreme Court.

They claim that Cox’s incorrect interpretation of Georgia law, as presented by the plaintiffs, was wrong. They argue that the Dec. 6 runoff election is clearly a continuation to the Nov. 8 general elections and is subjected to the prohibition of Saturday voting immediately following a holiday.

Raffensperger’s guidance was used by counties to prepare for the runoff election. This was under the assumption that no voting would be allowed on Nov. 26, according to Republican groups. They note that only 10 counties, all of which are Democrat-leaning, plan to hold early voting on Saturday.

They argue that this “sows confusion, inequity, and prevents the clarity and uniformity Georgia’s citizens deserve.”

The Supreme Court gave the Warnock campaign, and Democratic groups until Wednesday at 9 a.m. to respond.

Walker and Warnock, both former NFL and University of Georgia football stars, were forced to runoff Dec. 6, after neither of them won a majority during the midterm elections.

Georgia’s 2021 election law reduced the time between the general election in Georgia and the runoff to just four weeks. Thanksgiving falls in the middle. Georgians will have five days of early in-person voting starting Nov. 28.

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