Democratic Party of Georgia, DSCC & DCCC Challenge Absentee Ballot Procedures to Prevent Disenfranchisement Ahead of 2020 Election

November 7, 2019

Georgia Election Officials Currently Can Wait Days Before Notifying Voters Their Absentee Ballot Has Been Rejected, Giving Them Insufficient Time to “Cure” Ballot 

This Disenfranchisement Disproportionately Impacts African Americans Who Vote Absentee & Flaws Remain in Place Despite Rise of Absentee Voting in State

The Democratic Party of Georgia, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee today filed a lawsuit challenging Georgia’s absentee ballot procedures that lack enforceable standards and disenfranchise voters who cast absentee ballots. 

Despite a series of reforms following the 2018 elections, Georgia has not standardized how election officials notify voters that their ballots were rejected. The lack of standards for both time and method mean voters are not given sufficient notice to correct or “cure” their ballots — and their votes are not counted. 

The flawed procedures remain in place even as more Georgians vote absentee. In 2018, nearly 285,000 voters returned an absentee ballot compared to 246,000 in the 2016 presidential election. The disenfranchisement has a disproportionate impact on African American and minority voters: in Gwinnett County, 49% of rejected absentee ballots were cast by African American and Hispanic/Latino voters.

“Every Georgian should have the right to cast their vote and make sure it counts,” said DPG Chair Nikema Williams. “Our elections need clear and fair standards to ensure that no one is disenfranchised and that no community is unfairly targeted. Georgia voters deserve nothing less.”

“As more Georgians vote absentee, we need to ensure the procedures in place to count those ballots are fair — and right now, the reality is ballots are rejected and voters are disenfranchised,” said DSCC Chair Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto. “We are fighting for enforceable standards so voters have an opportunity to correct any issues with their ballots and make their voices heard.”

“Voters should not be left out or left behind because a state’s election laws fail to ensure every ballot – no matter who casts it – is treated the same,” DCCC Chairwoman Cheri Bustos said. “We are challenging Georgia’s substandard handling of absentee ballots because we believe every voter has the right to cast their ballot knowing it will be counted, and counted fairly.”

Last week, Democrats fled a lawsuit to challenge Georgia’s ballot order statute, which gives Republican candidates an arbitrary and unconstitutional advantage in their placement on general election ballots. The effort was one in a series of actions taken to protect the integrity of elections in states across the country. 

Read the complaint here.


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