Karen Handel, the Republican candidate in Georgia’s closely watched special election for a congressional seat, is outraged that a judge ordered the state to make it easier to vote in the race.
Handel’s outburst is the latest example of a politician willing to admit to believing it should be harder, not easier, to vote.
“This is going to boil your blood,” Handel told supporters in a fundraising email sent Monday and obtained by several reporters. “Just hours ago, the Democrats won their lawsuit to extend voter registration in Georgia before our election.”
Handel called the lawsuit “a partisan attempt to change the rules in the middle of the election,” and urged backers to “fight back against the Democrats’ latest trick to deceive (sic) this election.”
In fact, the lawsuit at issue was filed not by Democrats but by voting rights and civil rights organizations led by the respected Lawyers for Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, on behalf of the Georgia chapter of the NAACP and other plaintiffs.
And last week’s ruling extending the voter registration deadline from March 20 to May 21 came from U.S. Judge Timothy Batten, an appointee of President George W. Bush.
Federal law bars states from cutting off voter registration more than 30 days ahead of an election. Georgia argued that the June 20 runoff isn’t its own election, but rather is just an extension of the first round of voting, held April 18. Batten rejected that argument.
As Georgia’s secretary of state from 2007 to 2010, Handel led an illegal voter purge of the voter rolls, among other efforts to impose barriers to the ballot box.
It’s no surprise that Handel would want to keep new voters out of the upcoming 6th District race, which is being seen as a referendum on President Donald Trump. Many of the residents of the suburban Atlanta district are from Democratic-leaning demographics. And the campaign of Handel’s opponent, Democrat Jon Ossoff, says it has been registering voters at a furious pace.
Jason Kander, a former Democratic secretary of state for Missouri who now runs the national voting rights group Let America Vote, slammed Handel in a statement.
“Karen Handel has now admitted she wants fewer eligible voters in her district to cast a ballot in the upcoming special election,” said Kander. He accused Handel of “putting her political agenda first by taking a page right out of the voter suppression playbook.”