Court: Absentee ballots must be counted, not out-of-district provisional ballots
ATLANTA - A court ruling which came down late Wednesday night appears to be a win for both sides.
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The 43-page ruling stipulates that absentee ballots which have incorrect or omitted dates of birth must be counted. The judge ruled Georgia’s Secretary of State’s Office cannot certify the election until it is confirmed that each county’s results include those ballots.
Meanwhile, the judge ruled provisional ballots from out of district will not have to be counted and the time period in which to count them will not be extended. That means that the provisional ballots filed by someone who lives in a different county from where they were registered, do not need to be counted.
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The ruling from Judge Steve C. Jones of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia was expected around noon but came down around 9 p.m. The ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed by the Georgia Democratic Party.
It asks that ballots cast by people who voted in different counties from where they are registered to be counted, along with those ballots that had "insufficient information."
“This is a major victory for Georgia voters and the Abrams campaign in the fight to ensure every eligible vote is counted and every voice is heard,” Lauren Groh-Wargo, campaign manager for Stacey Abrams was quoted as saying in a release sent to FOX 5 News. “Under Brian Kemp’s watch as the nation’s foremost architect of voter suppression, countless Georgians have had substantial roadblocks placed in their path as they sought to exercise their fundamental right to vote. Now, the courts are doing what Brian Kemp’s Secretary of State office refused to – upholding and protecting Georgia’s rights and underlining the need for free and fair elections in a state that has suffered from an acute assault on voting rights engineered by none other than Secretary of State Brian Kemp."
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The Georgia Republican Party seems to be growing weary of the series of lawsuits filed by the Democrats and Tuesday filed one of their own to block the Democrat's effort to count what they call "illegal votes."
Brian Kemp's campaign released a statement reiterating the numbers are on Kemp's side. It reads in part:
"Tonight, Judge Jones rejected efforts by Stacey Abrams and her radical allies to undermine the democratic process and rule of law in Georgia," said Ryan Mahoney, Communications Director. "He denied her requests to create new voters and slammed the door on attempts to count illegal votes. The judge's ruling puts the people of Georgia and their voice ahead of Abrams and her political ambition.
"This ruling solidifies Brian Kemp's insurmountable lead. The election is over and Brian Kemp is the Governor-elect. It's time for Abrams to concede and join our efforts to keep Georgia moving in the right direction."
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The GOP also filed an ethics complaint against Abrams for governor over some TV and digital ads.
As of Wednesday at 9 p.m., the Secretary of State’s official website showed Republican Kemp with 1,978,171 votes or 50.23 percent, Democrat Abrams with 1,923,194 votes of 48.83 percent, and Libertarian Ted Metz with 37,227 votes or 0.95 percent.
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