Stacey Abrams' campaign received another win in the battle against voter suppression on Tuesday when a judge ruled Georgia's secretary of state must delay its certification of election results, The Washington Post reports. In a separate ruling, a second judge ruled Gwinnett County absentee ballots with incorrect or missing birthdates must be counted.
The initial deadline for Georgia to certify its votes was Tuesday at 5 p.m. However, according to The New York Times, a federal judge has ruled the results cannot be certified until Friday at the earliest.
Federal District Court Judge Amy Totenberg cited concerns over how the state handled provisional ballots and its voter registration system.
"[Management of voting and registration] suggests the secretary’s foregoing of its responsibility to confirm the accuracy of the results prior to final certification, including the assessment of whether serious provisional balloting count issues have been consistently and properly handled," Totenberg said.
Abrams' campaign lauded the ruling. The Spelman graduate hopes to trigger a recount of her state's ballots, if not an outright runoff. Her campaign believes she needs just 20,000 votes for a runoff and 18,000 for a full recount. Her Republican rival, Brian Kemp, has already declared victory in the gubernatorial race.
“The rulings from last night and this morning were wins for Georgians' fundamental right — the right to cast a ballot," Abrams' campaign manager Lauren Groh-Wargo said in a statement according to The Washington Post. "Given the confusion sowed by the secretary of state’s office last week and the number of voters who experienced irregularities regarding their registration status, these victories were necessary steps in the fight to count every eligible vote in Georgia.”
Kemp's camp pushed back against that narrative.
"While Democrats attempt to undermine Brian Kemp’s convincing victory seven days ago, we remain confident in the local elections officials who are certifying the results,” noted Brian Kemp spokesperson Ryan Mahoney on Monday morning before the judge's ruling. Kemp's campaign did not immediately comment after the ruling.
As we previously reported, Kemp recently resigned from his post as Georgia's secretary of state in hopes of beginning his transition to the role of governor. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, new Secretary of State Robyn Crittenden ordered county election officials to count absentee ballots with identity verification, even if they don't have a voter's date of birth ahead of Tuesday's rulings.
“What is required is the signature of the voter and any additional information needed for the county election official to verify the identity of the voter,” Crittenden wrote in her memo to officials. “Therefore, an election official does not violate [state law] when they accept an absentee ballot despite the omission of a day and month of birth ... if the election official can verify the identity of the voter.”
In a separate ruling that could affect the "additional information" officials can use to verify identity, another federal judge ruled on Tuesday that Gwinnett County officials must accept absentee ballots with missing or incorrect birthdates. The ruling is expected to affect roughly 1,000 votes.
Results are expected on the Georgia Secretary of State website per Judge Totenberg's order.
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