Skip to main content
Complete Olympic Games coverage at your fingertips
Your inside track on the Olympic Games
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week for 24 weeks
Complete Olympic Games coverage at your fingertips
Your inside track onthe Olympics Games
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

In this Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, file photo, people wait in line on the first day of advance voting for Georgia's Senate runoff election at the Bell Auditorium in Augusta, Ga.

Michael Holahan/The Associated Press

A federal judge has ruled that local election officials in one Georgia county cannot stop more than 4,000 people from voting in the state’s high-stakes Senate runoffs just because they filed paperwork to change their address.

U.S. District Judge Leslie Abrams Gardner’s ruling Wednesday came amid efforts by the Texas-based conservative group True The Vote to co-ordinate challenges to the registration of more than 364,000 voters statewide, based on change of address data obtained from the U.S. Postal Service.

Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler both face runoff elections Tuesday. Should both Republicans lose to Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, Democrats would take control of the Senate.

Story continues below advertisement

Georgia law allows any registered voter to challenge the eligibility of any other voter within the same county. Local election officials decide if there’s probable cause to accept the challenges.

Gardner’s ruling affects only Muscogee County, which includes Columbus, where county election officials had determined there was probably cause to challenge roughly 4,000 voters. That means anyone on the challenged list attempting to vote would have been required to prove their eligibility – as would anyone challenged who mailed in an absentee ballot.

Gardner ruled that challenged voters in the county must be given provisional ballots, but those ballots must be counted unless there’s evidence to show a voter is ineligible other than their appearance on the federal change of address registry.

A temporary restraining order by the same judge earlier this week had also blocked election officials in rural Ben Hill County from keeping 150 similarly challenged voters from the polls. But that order was dissolved by Gardner’s ruling Wednesday, which imposed no restrictions on Ben Hill County.

Election officials in several Georgia counties, including in Fulton and Cobb counties in metro Atlanta, have rejected similar challenges.

Attorneys for the Muscogee and Ben Hill county election boards had asked Gardner to recuse herself in the case. The judge is the sister of Stacey Abrams, Georgia’s Democratic nominee for governor in 2018 and founder of the voting rights group Fair Fight.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies