PRESS ROOM: The DCCC, DSCC, Democratic Party of Georgia Announce Victory Against Unlawful Georgia Ballot Procedures
NNPA NEWSWIRE — Flawed procedures remained in place even as more Georgians vote absentee. In 2018, nearly 285,000 voters returned an absentee ballot compared to 246,000 in the 2016 presidential election. The disenfranchisement of voters who cast absentee ballots has a disproportionate impact on African American and minority voters: in Gwinnett County, 49% of rejected absentee ballots were cast by African American and Hispanic/Latino voters.
Today, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and Democratic Party of Georgia announced victory in their lawsuit challenging Georgia’s absentee ballot procedures that lack enforceable standards and disenfranchise voters who cast absentee ballots.
Despite a series of reforms following the 2018 elections, Georgia has not standardized how election officials notify voters that their ballots were rejected. The lack of enforceable standards for both time and method mean voters’ legitimate ballots are too often thrown out based on an incorrect finding by election officials that their signatures don’t match and are not given sufficient notice to correct or “cure” their ballots — and their votes are not counted. Democrats filed a lawsuit in November 2019 challenging Georgia’s lack of standards that create an unequal and unlawful absentee ballot curing procedure.
The flawed procedures remained in place even as more Georgians vote absentee. In 2018, nearly 285,000 voters returned an absentee ballot compared to 246,000 in the 2016 presidential election. The disenfranchisement of voters who cast absentee ballots has a disproportionate impact on African American and minority voters: in Gwinnett County, 49% of rejected absentee ballots were cast by African American and Hispanic/Latino voters.
“A huge victory for all Georgians, this decision further secures each citizen their constitutionally guaranteed right to the ballot box,” said DPG Chair Nikema Williams. “While Georgia Republicans continue to try and deny law-abiding citizens their right to vote, Georgia Democrats will keep fighting to make sure every Georgian can make their voice heard in this election.”
“This settlement will give Georgians peace of mind that their votes will be counted and that they won’t lose their voices because of flawed state election laws”, DCCC Chairwoman Cheri Bustos said. “Voters shouldn’t have their votes discounted because a state’s election laws fail to ensure every ballot – no matter who casts it – is treated the same.”
With more and more Georgians voting absentee, this is an important victory that will help ensure voters have an opportunity to correct any issues with their ballots and are not disenfranchised,” said DSCC Chair Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto. “We will continue to stand up for voting rights and win these fights so voters can make their voices heard and every ballot is counted fairly in 2020.”
Georgia’s Secretary of State and State Board of Elections have agreed to notify voters by email, phone, and mail within three days, or by the next business day during the eleven days before Election Day if their ballots are rejected and an opportunity to cure. They have also agreed to more reasonable standards for matching signatures on absentee ballots that prevent fewer absentee ballots from being wrongly thrown out.
Gwinnett County has agreed to simplify their absentee ballot envelopes by printing clearer text on larger envelopes.