Lost in the New Years’ celebrations may be a major story in the Georgia Senate runoff elections.
U.S. District Court Judge Leslie Abrams Gardner issued a new injunction just before midnight on Wednesday that replaces an earlier restraining order she had issued to prevent Muscogee County from forcing voters to cast provisional ballots at all.
At issue was more than 4,000 voters who faced “eligibility challenges” just before the Jan. 5 election. The problem was unverified postal change-of-address records.
Gardner’s order, according to Politico, directs no challenges to their eligibility be upheld based exclusively on data in the Postal Service’s database. Democrats worry the database is unreliable and an unverified indicator of whether individuals have changed their legal residence.
The order requires the county to notify voters it finds such evidence of ineligibility and give them an opportunity to present evidence to count their ballot by Jan. 8 — a few days after the Jan. 5 election.
Seven paragraphs in, readers will see that Gardner is the sister of Stacey Abrams — the state’s former Democrat gubernatorial nominee.
Gardner refused to recuse herself. She was appointed to the bench by President Barack Obama.
Abrams has since grown as an activist in support of voter registration. Gardner, the judge, said Abrams’ connection to the case is “extremely remote.”
Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, said it is “very concerning” that a judge would rule on a case brought by a group heavily funded by her sister.
The judge said she’s concerned about asking voters to prove they’re eligible to vote because of the holiday season and the pandemic.