ATLANTA — A federal judge ruled Friday night that Georgia’s election law does not violate the constitutional rights of voters, dealing a blow to Fair Fight Action, the voting rights group aligned with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.
US District Court Judge Steven Jones ruled against all claims brought by Fair Fight Action, which had challenged Georgia’s absentee voting provisions, oversight of voter rolls, and the law. state “exact match” certificate, which requires that a voter’s name on their voter application be identical. to government identification of it, even in the case of dashes or accents. The majority of voter applications flagged for inconsistencies in 2018 belonged to voters of color, according to an investigation by The Associated Press.
“Although Georgia’s electoral system is not perfect, the practices challenged do not violate either the constitution or the Voting Rights Act,” Judge Jones wrote in his order of 288 pages. The judge, who was nominated by President Barack Obama, added that “the burden on voters is relatively low” and that Fair Fight Action did not provide “direct evidence of a voter who was unable to vote, experienced longer wait times, was confused about voter registration status.”
The plaintiffs, many of whom were Georgia voters, had argued that the 2018 election had been marked by a series of barriers to accessing the ballot that had been racially discriminatory. Further investigation showed that Georgia voters in 2018 saw longer lines at majority and minority precinctsfaulty electoral equipment and poorly trained staff.
In a statement, Fair Fight Action Executive Director Cianti Stewart-Reid called the ruling a “significant loss to the voting rights community in Georgia and across the country.”
The ruling, capping a four-year legal battle between the voting rights group and Georgia’s secretary of state, is a blow to Ms. Abrams, who founded Fair Fight in 2018 after losing to the now-governor. Brian Kemp, a Republican, by fewer than 60,000 votes in his first run for governor. She has said that she believes discriminatory election rules were a factor in losing him.
“Over the past four years, Fair Fight and its allies have exposed a deeply flawed and problematic system,” Ms. Abrams, who is running in a rematch against Mr. Kemp, said in a statement. “As the judge says in his first sentence, ‘This is a voting rights case that resulted in wins and losses for all sides.’ Yet the battle for voter empowerment over voter suppression rages on and the cause of voter access endures. I will not stop fighting to ensure that every vote can be cast, every ballot counted and every voice heard.”
In a statement released Friday night, Mr. Kemp said the ruling “exposes this legal effort for what it really is: a tool wielded by a politician who hopes to misarm the legal system to further his own political goals.”