A federal judge in Georgia will not strike down an election law tightening registration dates and mail-in voting for runoff elections.
At the heart of the case was an election law — the Election Integrity Act — championed by state Republicans that seeks to shorten the time frame for Georgia runoff elections from nine weeks to four weeks and reduce the window for mail-in ballots.
When no candidate wins a majority in Georgia elections, the state transitions to a runoff. This unique system has forced elections to be dragged out for weeks, well after the rest of the nation’s results are confirmed.
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An election worker replaces a voting sticker at a polling location during a runoff election in Atlanta. A federal judge declined to block part of a sweeping 2021 election law that shortened Georgia’s runoff election period to four weeks from nine weeks. ( Elijah Nouvelage/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Democratic opponents, joined by the U.S. Department of Justice, tried to claim the stricter voting period unfairly discriminates against Black voters.
The law also closes voter registration 29 days before elections, preventing individuals from registering to vote between the first election and a hypothetical runoff.
U.S. District Judge J.P. Boulee ruled Friday that plaintiffs did not offer any evidence supporting their claim that Black voters are uniquely impacted by the law.
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A person walks toward a polling location during a runoff election in Atlanta. ( Dustin Chambers/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
“Plaintiffs presented evidence that Black voters are more likely to vote early. Plaintiffs did not present any evidence, however, which would show why Black voters would disproportionately struggle to vote during the new early voting period,” Boulee wrote.
State Republicans applauded the court’s ruling in defense of the law, which they believe will protect the integrity of the voting process.
“This ruling affirms what we have maintained all along — that Georgia’s Election Integrity Act is designed to ensure fair and secure elections for all citizens,” Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said in a statement.
People wait in line to vote early for a Senate runoff election in Kennesaw, Georgia. (AP Photo/Mike Stewart)
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He added, “We will continue to stand firm in defending the principles of this legislation.”