Sen. Warnock and his allies claim that a state law prohibiting elections immediately after public holidays could disenfranchise thousands of voters.
Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock has joined a lawsuit seeking to end the Peace State’s rule limiting early voting in its upcoming runoff election.
According to The New York Times, the law states that Georgia cannot hold elections two days after a holiday.
However, the state’s runoff election is scheduled to take place on December 6. Since the election is preceded by Thanksgiving and a state holiday that once commemorated the birthday of the late Confederate General Robert E. Lee, state voters will be unable to cast early ballots on Saturday.
“This is not only wrong, but it’s a misinterpretation of the law,” said Warnock, who is running against Republican candidate Herschel Walker. “It means that workers who punch a clock may not be able to make it to the polls. … We should be striving to give the people of Georgia fair access to the ballot box.”
The Times notes that a “sweeping” election law, passed in 2021, shortened the runoff window to four weeks from nine, limiting the days available for early voting.
The lawsuit is supported by Sen. Warnock, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and the Georgia Democratic Party.
In a press conference held Tuesday, Sen. Warnock encouraged counties to allow voters to cast ballots on the Saturday before Election Day.
Speaking to the media, Democrats alleged that the state’s restrictive voting law is not intended to restrict runoff elections.
“A couple hundred thousand Georgians voted on Saturday,” Sen. Warnock said, referencing voter turnouts for the general election in November. “And now we’ve got three weeks left and they’re saying no Saturday voting. I think it is a disservice to the people of Georgia. And since we’re not hamstrung by the law, as we interpret it, people ought to have the ability to exercise their voting rights.”
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, defended the state’s voting law, telling the New York Times that Sen. Warnock and his allies are “seeking to change Georgia law right before an election based on their political preferences.”
“If recent elections prove one thing, it’s that voters expect candidates to focus on winning at the ballot box — not at the courthouse,” he said.
“Instead of muddying the water and pressuring counties to ignore Georgia law, Senator Warnock should be allowing county election officials to continue preparations for the upcoming runoff,” Raffensperger’s office told the Times in a prepared statement.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that several Georgia counties have already passed resolutions to allow early voting on the Sunday preceding the runoff election.
Cobb, DeKalb, and Fulton counties have also voted to permit early voting on Saturday if Sen. Warnock’s lawsuit is successful.