Raphael Warnock, Democrats sue to allow Saturday voting after Thanksgiving

U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock’s campaign, along with the Democratic Party of Georgia and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, is suing the state of Georgia to allow early voting on Nov. 26, according to documents obtained by Washington Post reporter Matt Brown who tweeted copies of the lawsuit. 

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger over the weekend announced there would not be early voting on the Saturday after Thanksgiving because election law bars voting within two days of a holiday. That Saturday is two days after Thanksgiving and just one day after the state holiday formerly known as Robert E. Lee’s birthday.

The lawsuit claims the law only applies to General Elections and Primary Elections, not a runoff, which Warnock is facing against Republican challenger Herschel Walker.

The lawsuit notes that Georgia voting law requires “a period of advance voting” as “soon as possible,” but “no later than the second Monday immediately prior to such runoff.”

“In other words, while counties must begin allowing voters to participate in advance voting no later than November 28, 2022, they are required to start earlier if they can,” the lawsuit reads. 

The lawsuit claims Raffensperger opted to “cherry-pick” provisions of the law and applied them “selectively to runoffs,” which the lawsuit calls “nonsensical. 

“Upon information and belief, several counties within Georgia would hold in-person advance voting on Saturday, November 26 for for Defendant’s issuance of the November 12 Bulletin,” the lawsuit reads. “This, in issuing such guidance, the Defendant is unlawfully restricting the number of advance voting days counties may provide to voters for the 2022 senate runoff election.”

In addition to requesting legal action allowing Saturday voting on Nov. 26, the lawsuit also seeks a temporary restraining order and/or interlocutory inductive relief “ordering Defendant and its agents to immediately refrain from taking any action to prevent counties from holding advance voting on Saturday, November 26 … or to prevent any votes cast on that day from being counted or included in the certified election results.”

The lawsuit is significant in the race between Warnock and Walker, as Democrats typically — as was the case in the Nov. 8 General Election — enjoy more robust early vote turnout than Republicans. The shortened window for early voting could impact Democrats’ ability to adequately turnout voters for Warnock and reduce turnout overall.

Warnock lead Walker in election results last week, but neither candidate reached 50% of the vote, prompting a runoff election.

Democrats have already secured control of the U.S. Senate, according to projections by several major news outlets as results are still being certified. A Warnock victory would give Democrats 51 members in the chamber, an improvement from their current split majority that has Vice President Kamala Harris serving as the tie-breaking vote. 

“The public interest weighs heavily in favor of entry of an injunction designed to protect the right to a full and fair election, including permitting counties to hold advance voting on all days they are permitted to do so under Georgia law,” the suit continues. 

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