ACLU of Georgia

Press Release: Civil Rights Organizations File Amicus Brief in Lawsuit Challenging Georgia’s Limits on Early Voting

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 17, 2022
CONTACTS: 
LDF Media: media@naacpldf.org
ACLU of Georgia: media@acluga.org

ATLANTA — Today, the Legal Defense Fund (LDF) and American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia (ACLU of Georgia) filed an amicus brief in the Georgia state court lawsuit challenging the Georgia Secretary of State Office’s “official election bulletin” to county election officials and registrars instructing them that they are prohibited from offering in-person early voting on Saturday, November 26 for the December 6 federal runoff election. In addition to explaining that relevant state law permits counties to conduct early voting on November 26, the brief also advances two additional points. First, the brief explains how failing to provide Saturday voting will create a disparate impact on Black voters, who disproportionately use Saturday early voting compared to white voters. Second, the brief also urges the Court to interpret any ambiguity in the relevant state law in favor of broader voter access, explaining that the Court should be guided by the “democracy canon.”

LDF and ACLU of Georgia also request argument time during the state court emergency hearing on the lawsuit, which is scheduled for November 18 at 11:00am ET.

“It is shameful that the Secretary of State is attempting to eliminate any early in-person voting options during the only Saturday that county officials could offer such voting for the December 6 run-off election,” said LDF Assistant Counsel John Cusick. “Prohibiting advance voting on Saturday, November 26 will disproportionately harm Black voters and hinder their ability to make their voice heard. As just one fact, it is a longstanding reality of Georgia’s voting patterns that Black voters utilize Saturday voting options at higher rates than white voters. Georgia officials should be preserving and expanding voting access, not restricting it. And that goal is accomplished by allowing counties to offer early voting on Saturday, November 26.”

“Early, in-person voting is an integral part of an accessible election, particularly after Georgia’s anti-voter law severely limited the time counties have to administer this important runoff election. The State’s guidance prohibiting early in-person voting on Saturday, November 26 is not only an incorrect interpretation of state law, but also harmful in terms of voter access,” said Caitlin May, ACLU of Georgia voting rights attorney. “Prohibiting Saturday early voting disproportionately impacts Black Georgians in particular. The ACLU of Georgia is committed to fighting for the ability of every Georgian to access their right to vote, and Saturday voting is a critical part of that access.”

In March 2021, LDF, ACLU-GA, and other civil rights groups filed a federal lawsuit against Georgia’s sweeping voting law making it harder for all Georgians to vote, particularly voters of color, new citizens, and religious communities. The law, S.B. 202, was passed mere weeks after the 2020 presidential election and 2021 runoff elections saw record turnout, particularly from Black voters, in Georgia. One of the provisions challenged includes S.B. 202’s drastic reduction in early voting during runoff elections.

Read the full amicus brief here.

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Founded in 1940, the Legal Defense Fund (LDF) is the nation’s first civil rights law organization. LDF’s Thurgood Marshall Institute is a multi-disciplinary and collaborative hub within LDF that launches targeted campaigns and undertakes innovative research to shape the civil rights narrative. In media attributions, please refer to us as the Legal Defense Fund or LDF. Please note that LDF has been completely separate from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) since 1957—although LDF was originally founded by the NAACP and shares its commitment to equal rights.

The ACLU of Georgia envisions a state that guarantees all persons the civil liberties and rights contained in the United States and Georgia Constitutions and Bill of Rights. The ACLU of Georgia enhances and defends the civil liberties and rights of all Georgians through legal action, legislative and community advocacy, and civic education and engagement. We are an inclusive, nonpartisan, and statewide organization powered by our members, donors and active volunteers.