Judge Leslie Abrams Gardner put a stop to the GOP-led voter suppression effort to purge mainly Black and brown voters from the rolls in two Georgia counties in the midst of early voting for the Senate runoff elections.
Federal Judge Halts Voter Purge In Georgia Election
Credit: Screenshot
December 29, 2020

A federal judge blocked an attempt to purge Georgia's voting rolls of approximately 4,000 voters in the midst of early voting in the state's Senate runoff elections. It was widely seen as a GOP voter suppression effort, as the majority of the voters the county boards tried to purge were Democrats.

According to Politico:

The bulk of the registrations that the counties sought to rescind, more than 4,000, were in Muscogee County, which Biden won handily in November. An additional 150 were from Ben Hill County, which Trump won by a wide margin.

The suit, brought by Majority Forward, represented by National Democratic Party attorney Marc Elias, followed an effort to challenge the lengthy roster of voters simply because their registrations appeared to match U.S. Postal Service change-of address records. Voting officials in the two counties agreed to remove the voters, despite warnings from Democrats that such postal data is not a reliable or conclusive indicator that a voter has given up their local residence.

The decisions by the county boards to purge the voters from the rolls were based on one man's search of public records to show that postal change-of-address forms indicated that the voters had moved out of state. That's it. No further evidence was provided.

The Muscogee board met Dec. 16 and backed Russell’s motion 3-1, even though he didn’t attend the meeting and provided no additional evidence to support his challenge. Voters on Russell’s list, per the board, would be required to vote by provisional ballot and present additional evidence of residency to vote.

In Ben Hill County, the board voted 2-1 to support a challenge lodged by Tommy Roberts, a member of the City Council in Fitzgerald, Ga. Roberts similarly relied on change-of-address data, and the board backed him despite evidence that the data could not be verified and would be inadmissible in court.

Marc Elias, representing the Democrats in the group Majority Forward, brought suit against the county boards, and won, keeping these voters on the rolls and able to vote. The federal judge who issued the ruling is Leslie Abrams Gardner.

Gardner’s 11-page ruling released Monday night noted that the removals of the voters appeared to violate federal law because they were not given proper notice and because they qualify as the type of systematic voter roll cleaning that is not permitted within 90 days of a federal election.

Judge Gardner happens to be Stacey Abrams' sister, so of course, cue Republican outrage and racist posturing that she should have recused herself from the case. Judge Gardner acknowledged the formal request for recusal in her ruling, but wrote, "The Court has reviewed the motion and finds no basis for recusal. An Order detailing the Court’s reasoning is forthcoming."

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