What is being called an emergency meeting of the Athens-Clarke County Board of Elections is scheduled for 4 p.m. this afternoon. The session comes after a weekend ruling by an Atlanta judge who says counties may allow early voting next Saturday, despite an earlier decree by Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who said the Thanksgiving holiday would allow early voting on Thursday ruled out two days later.
The Athens electoral committee had already set Sunday as election day before the December 6 run-off between Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker.
A week from today, a full week of early voting begins in Athens and across the state.
From WSB TV…
A Fulton County Superior Court judge Friday said Georgia may hold an early vote in the Senate runoff between Herschel Walker and Sen. Raphael Warnock on Saturday after the Thanksgiving holiday.
The move is a huge win for the Georgia Democrats and for Warnock’s campaign.
Traditionally, high turnout favors Democratic candidates, and this ruling means voters have an extra day to vote early on the Saturday after the Thanksgiving holiday.
“Certainly this is an urgent situation,” said Thomas Cox, Fulton County Superior Court Judge.
It boiled down to this: Can Georgians vote early on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, or does Georgian law specifically forbid it?
Georgian Foreign Minister Brad Raffensperger believes Georgian law does not allow early Saturday voting the day after an official holiday and has urged districts to ban it.
His lawyers argued he made his decision based on laws and nothing else.
“The guidance was not a decision made at the discretion of the Secretary of State. It wasn’t driven by politics. It was not intended to favor or disadvantage any particular candidate,” said attorney Charlene McGowan.
But attorneys for Warnock and the Georgia Democratic Party disagreed, saying the Secretary of State was picking bits and pieces of Georgia law.
They insisted the law requires early voting on the Saturday after a holiday, and urged the judge to issue an order giving Georgia counties the discretion to have them if they so choose.
“We have an interpretation that disrupts the firm expectations of Georgia voters and counties who have previously offered early voting on a Saturday after a holiday before a runoff,” said attorney Uzoma Nkwonta.
Cox said his current Georgia law does not prohibit counties from holding early voting on Saturday, Nov. 26.
He also called on the Secretary of State and his staff to interfere in Georgia counties’ efforts to allow for an early vote.
In a statement, the Warnock campaign called the verdict a “win for every Georgian”. So far there has been no comment from the Walker campaign.
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