A federal judge quickly put an end to one of three Republican attempts to curtail absentee voting in the Georgia runoffs Thursday after a brief hearing by teleconference.
This one, lodged by Georgia’s Twelfth Congressional District Republican Committee against Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and other election officials, was filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia. It sought to block the use of drop boxes, keep officials from opening ballots until Election Day and invalidate guidance from Raffensperger’s office about verifying signature matches.
“We are not even on the eve of an election,” said Judge J. Randal Hall during the hearing, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We are, as it relates to this particular election, closing in on halftime.”
He added that absentee ballots had already been printed, mailed and in some cases, returned.
He also found GOP claims that the rules facilitated voter fraud “highly speculative.”
Ultimately, he found that the plaintiffs lacked standing and rejected their emergency motion for a restraining order and injunction.
“These plaintiffs are asking me to do what the Supreme Court, and our Eleventh Circuit, have cautioned against,” he said, per Politico. “I am not willing to go there.”
Another lawsuit in federal court, brought by the Georgia Republican Party, National Republican Senatorial Committee and Senators Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) and David Perdue (R-GA), seeks to make signature matching procedures more restrictive. That is also due to be heard on Thursday.
A third suit, filed by the Republican National Committee and state Republican Party on the state level, seeks to limit drop box usage to the hours of the local election offices and make changes to how poll watchers operate. It’s still pending in Fulton County Superior Court.
As Republicans attempt to restrict voting at the eleventh hour, Georgia voters are already heading to the polls. Early in-person voting started with a record-shattering day Monday, and more than 378,000 voters have returned their absentee ballots.