U.S. District Judge Leigh May, of the Northern District of Georgia, just handed down a decision stating voters would have a second chance to correct signature issues on absentee ballots and ballot applications that were previously rejected.
The Associated Press reported Wednesday afternoon that the thousands of Georgia voters who previously has their absentee ballots rejected due to signatures on ballots and ballot applications failing the state’s “exact match” system will have a second chance to correct the errors, before having their ballots rejected outright.
Two separate lawsuits filed in U.S. District Court argued county officials’ rejection of absentee ballots on mismatched signature grounds was improper, as voters were not notified of the issue and given a chance to refute the county’s rejection of their ballot.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia filed one lawsuit on behalf of the Muslim Voter Project and Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta specifically challenging the signature rejections. A separate lawsuit filed by the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda challenged the rejection of ballots based on other errors, like a voter mistakenly writing in the current year as opposed to their birth year on an absentee ballot application, or accidentally putting their signature on the wrong line.
In Gwinnett County, Georgia — which is one of the most racially diverse counties in the state — officials threw out nearly 400 absentee ballots, which represented approximately 8.5 percent of ballots mailed in. Comparatively, the rejection rate for the rest of the state was roughly two percent, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The paper reported that the rejections were either due to mismatched signatures, incomplete applications, or missing residential addresses.
Georgia is home to perhaps the most high-profile gubernatorial election in the country, in which Democrat Stacey Abrams — the former minority leader in the Georgia House of Representatives — is facing off against current Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who oversees Georgia’s elections. In a recent gubernatorial debate, Kemp said he would not recuse himself in the event a recount was necessary.
Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.