Updated Nov 15, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Warnock, Democrats sue Georgia secretary of state over early voting

Illustration of a voting booth with a gavel printed on the side.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Three weeks out from the U.S. Senate runoff election in Georgia, a legal fight has broken out over the state's early voting schedule, leaving some counties in limbo.

Driving the news: Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.)'s campaign and national and state Democratic groups filed suit in Fulton County Superior Court Tuesday, challenging the secretary of state's interpretation that counties cannot hold early voting on Saturday, Nov. 26.

Why it matters: In the monthlong runoff, just one week of early voting (Monday, Nov. 28-Friday, Dec. 2) is required of counties, but they can hold more if possible.

  • Nearly 80,000 Georgians cast their ballots in person on the general election's first required Saturday of early voting: October 22.

Be smart: Georgia has 159 counties, all of whom will determine their own early voting hours and days beyond the minimum requirement.

Catch up quick: While Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger had previously stated that counties may hold early voting on Saturday, Nov. 26, the office later backtracked.

  • It cited a preexisting law (which passed in 2016 with bipartisan support) that prohibits early voting the days after a holiday. The Saturday in question falls immediately after both the Thanksgiving holiday and a holiday previously known as Robert E. Lee's birthday.

The big picture: Major metro Atlanta counties including Fulton and Gwinnett have already pledged to begin early voting on Sunday, Nov. 27 and to extend early voting hours to 7am-7pm for the entire week.

Of note: The law requires a week of notice before advance voting begins.

  • That means counties would have to announce by Wednesday if they plan to hold any early voting before Thanksgiving.

What they're saying: Warnock told reporters Tuesday: "This is certainly something all of us should be able to agree on."

  • "We just saw an election in November where the people of Georgia made it clear that they want to use Saturday voting," he said.

The other side: In a statement, Raffensperger accused Warnock and Democrats of "seeking to change Georgia law right before an election based on their political preferences."

  • He accused them of "muddying the water and pressuring counties to ignore Georgia law."
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