The Georgia Supreme Court voted unanimously to allow counties to offer early voting on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
The Georgia Republican Party, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and the Republican National Committee filed an appeal with the state Supreme Court Tuesday requesting it overturn a lower court ruling allowing early voting on Saturday.
The GOP groups argued that state law prohibits early voting on a Saturday that comes after a holiday on the previous Thursday or Friday.
BREAKING: Georgia Supreme Court unanimously denies appeal from Georgia Republican Party.
Saturday voting is upheld. Coverage to come.
— Mark Niesse (@markniesse) November 23, 2022
BREAKING: Georgia Supreme Court unanimously DENIES appeal from Georgia Republican Party. Early voting will start this Saturday. The decision was upheld.
— PoliticsVerse 🇺🇸 (@PoliticsVerse) November 23, 2022
The Daily Wire reported:
The state’s highest court ruled 9-0 in favor of Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock’s campaign and the state Democratic Party, according to the New York Post. The Democratic groups argued that the provision in question applies to primary and general elections, but not to runoffs. Warnock faces GOP candidate Herschel Walker in a runoff election for Warnock’s seat on December 6.
The GOP appeal came after Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger prohibited counties from offering early voting on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Raffensperger’s order drew legal complaints from Warnock’s campaign and the Democratic Party of Georgia, sparking a legal battle that appears to have ended Wednesday in the state Supreme Court.
Raffensperger quit the legal battle after the state Court of Appeals ruled against the secretary of state on Monday, keeping in place a Fulton County judge’s ruling. The Republican groups picked up the legal battle a day later, stating that the Court of Appeals’ decision would “gut the statute, sow utter chaos, and unevenly impact Georgia voters’ access to advance voting.”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution added:
The Georgia Supreme Court’s ruling didn’t explain its reasoning for denying the appeal but noted that all justices concurred with the decision. The court includes eight justices who were appointed by Republican governors and one who was originally appointed by a Democratic governor to a lower court over 20 years ago. All have won elections since then.
In the last runoffs for the U.S. Senate two years ago, early voting was allowed on Saturday, Dec. 26, 2020, the day after Christmas, when over 15,600 voters in three counties cast their ballots.
The Republican Party alleged that Democrats were trying to tilt the election in their favor because many of the areas offering Saturday voting are counties with Democratic majorities, including Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett. But several Republican-leaning counties are also providing Saturday voting, such as Bartow, Mitchell, Walton and Ware.
“Georgians deserve better than Democrats scheming to change election laws in the eleventh hour,” Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said. “This is exactly why the RNC, NRSC and GAGOP have lawyers on the ground in Georgia: to fight Democrat election violations as they happen.”
The Democratic plaintiffs in the case argued that Republicans were the ones causing a disruption.
“If anything, it is the Intervenors’ eleventh-hour request that threatens to create confusion, as many counties — and now the secretary’s office as well — have spent days promoting Saturday voting to Georgians,” they said in a court filing Wednesday.
During the general election, Walker won 56% of the election day vote and Warnock received 54% of early and absentee votes. Overall, Warnock held a small lead but neither candidate received over 50% of all ballots cast in the three-candidate race, forcing a runoff.