ATLANTA — A Fulton County Superior Court judge said Friday that Georgia can hold early voting on the Saturday following the Thanksgiving holiday in the Senate runoff between Herschel Walker and Sen. Raphael Warnock.
The move is a big win for Georgia Democrats and for Warnock’s campaign.
Traditionally, high voter turnout favors Democratic candidates, and this ruling means voters will have an extra day of early voting on the Saturday after the Thanksgiving holiday.
Just days after incumbent Warnock announced that his campaign and the Democratic party of Georgia would jointly sue over ensuring a Saturday early voting for his runoff with Republican challenger Walker, attorneys for both sides were in court with the judge reminding them the clock is ticking.
“Certainly, this is a time-urgent situation,” Fulton County Superior Court Judge Thomas Cox said.
It boiled down to this: Can Georgians vote early on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, or does Georgia law specifically prohibit that?
Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger believes Georgia law doesn’t allow for early Saturday voting on the day after an official holiday, so he told counties to forbid it.
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His attorneys argued he made his decision based on law and nothing else.
“The guidance was not a decision the secretary of state made based on his discretion. It was not driven by politics. It was not intended to advantage or disadvantage a particular candidate,” attorney Charlene McGowan said.
But attorneys for Warnock and the Georgia Democratic Party disagreed and said the secretary of state was cherry-picking bits and pieces from Georgia law.
They insisted the law does allow for Saturday early voting after a holiday and asked the judge to issue an order giving Georgia counties the discretion to have it if they want to.
“We have an interpretation that upsets the settled expectations of Georgia voters and counties that have previously offered early voting on a Saturday following a holiday in advance of a runoff,” attorney Uzoma Nkwonta said.
Cox said in his ruling Georgia law does not prohibit counties from conducting early voting on Saturday, Nov. 26.
He also enjoined the secretary of state and his staff from interfering in any efforts by Georgia counties to provide early voting.
In a statement, the Warnock campaign called the ruling a “win for every Georgian.” So far there has been no comment from the Walker campaign.
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