A court ruling ordering Georgia to reopen voter registration ahead of a closely watched special election for Congress has allowed over 5,500 voters to be added to the rolls.
The figure, reported Monday by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, underscores how often-overlooked state rules like voter registration deadlines can have a big impact on access to the ballot. It includes both brand new registrants and Georgians who were previously registered but moved into the district after registration was previously closed March 20.
Voting rights groups led by the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law sued Georgia last month, alleging that it was violating federal law by cutting off voter registration three months ahead of the June 20 special election runoff for the 6th Congressional district seat. A federal judge appointed by President George W. Bush ordered the state to extend the deadline to May 21.
Registration reopened on May 4. But, as The Daily Democracy reported, local election offices in the three counties hosting the congressional election didn’t initially move with great speed to let voters know they could still register.
Still, progressive groups have taken advantage of the ruling to run voter registration drives in minority communities, meaning the new registrations are likely to benefit Democrat Jon Ossoff more than Republican Karen Handel.
Indeed, Handel, a former Georgia Secretary of State who has her own record of support for restrictive voting policies, denounced the ruling after it came out, calling it “the Democrats’ latest trick to deceive (sic) this election.”
The 6th Congressional district has traditionally leaned Republican, but polls show Ossoff within striking distance. A win for him would deal a blow to the Trump administration and embolden Democrats as next year’s midterms approach.
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