ATLANTA — A new effort to block new Georgia residents from voting ahead of the Jan. 5 runoff election has been stopped by a federal judge.
The Georgia Republican Party, along with the Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue campaigns, filed a federal lawsuit Thursday claiming that hundreds of voters have already cast ballots in states in which a U.S. Senate seat was on the ballot. They argue the Voting Rights Act prohibits this action, calling it double voting.
The suit involved about76,000 Georgians that were added to the voter rolls since the general election.
“I think there is a strong case to be made if you vote for a Senator in one state, you can’t come vote for another Senator being seated in the same body at the same time in another state,” said Gabriel Sterling with the Georgia secretary of state’s office.
But Georgia State University law professor Anthony Kreis said that would violate the 14th Amendment and disenfranchise new Georgia voters.
“One of the primary features of our constitutional system is the right to travel,” Kreis said.
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Two weeks ago, Channel 2 Action News was there when Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced an investigation into a group called Operation New Voter Registration for their work on college campuses.
“Encouraging college kids to commit felonies with no regard to what it might mean for them is despicable,” Raffensperger said.
But the head of Operation New Voter Registration, Paul Heller, told Channel 2 investigative reporter Justin Gray that they did nothing wrong.
“What we did is we educated students on their right to either vote in their home state or in Georgia where they’re attending college,” Heller said.
The secretary of state’s office points to an Operation New Voter Registration flyer that tells college students they can switch back their registration for future elections
“It says switch your registration and then you can switch it back. That’s kind of showing the intent to game the system,” Sterling said.
“Is there any doubt in your mind that you followed the letter and intent of the law?” Gray asked Heller.
“No doubt at all,” Heller said.
Late Friday night, a federal judge blocked the effort by the campaigns.
Typically, Georgia runoff elections are low-turnout affairs. But that is not the case so far.
Currently, there is only an 8 percent difference in the number of people who have cast a ballot on Friday compared to this point in the general election.
Cox Media Group