Georgia Supreme Court rejects Republican offer to stop early voting in Saturday’s Senate runoff

The Georgia Supreme Court on Wednesday denied the state’s Republican Party’s attempt to block early voting in the hotly contested state Senate runoff from advancing this Saturday.

The brief unanimous decision by state superior court upheld last week’s decision by a Fulton County judge who blocked a Georgia secretary of state directive barring counties from voting on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, had argued that changes to Georgia’s voting laws meant there could be no early voting on November 26, the only Saturday Georgians would have been able to cast early ballots in the elections on December 1. Runoff election of 6 between Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker.

Early voting is required to be available statewide Monday through Friday of the coming week.

“The Court finds that absence from the Saturday vote will irreparably harm Plaintiffs, their members and constituents, and their preferred runoff candidate,” Judge Thomas A. Cox wrote in a ruling last Friday.

The state Republican Party appealed the decision, arguing that it was allowing «illegal early voting.»

The dispute centered on a provision of Senate Bill 202, signed by Republican Governor Brian Kemp in March 2021, which provides that early voting by personal appearance must not take place on any Saturday after a «public or legal holiday» on the preceding Thursday or Friday. Raffensperger said that meant there could be no early in-person voting on Nov. 26, the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Lawyers for the Democrats and Warnock’s campaign argued that the section of the law cited by Raffensperger applied to primary and general elections, but not to runoff elections. Cox agreed.

In a joint statement Wednesday, the Warnock campaign, the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee and the state Democratic Party called the state Supreme Court ruling «a victory for all Georgia voters.»

Early voting open in at least one of the state’s 159 counties on Tuesday.

in a court fileDemocrats said at least 19 counties with a total of more than 4 million residents planned to offer early voting on Saturday.

juliet arcodia contributed.