On Friday (November 18), a Fulton County judge ruled that the Georgia Secretary of State cannot prohibit counties from voting on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
According to NBC News, Judge Thomas A. Cox ruled after a short legal battle between Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office and the Democratic Party of Georgia over the December 6 Senate runoff between Democrat Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker.
Raffensperger, a member of the GOP, had maintained that changes to Georgia voting laws meant that there couldn’t be early voting on November 26, which is the only Saturday when it would have been possible for Georgians to cast an early vote in the expected close runoff race.
Cox agreed with Democrats’ and Warnock’s argument in the late Friday ruling, noting, “The Court finds that the absence of the Saturday vote will irreparably harm the Plaintiffs, their members, and constituents, and their preferred runoff candidate.”
Raffensperger’s office says they “disagree with the court’s order and look forward to a prompt appeal.”
While a provision of Senate Bill 202, signed by GOP Gov. Brian Kemp in March 2021, stated that in-person voting must end the Friday before the runoff and that in-person voting could not be held on any Saturday that followed a “public or legal holiday” on the preceding Thursday or Friday, Cox agreed with the Democrats and Warnock’s assertion that the law only applied to primaries and general elections, not to runoffs.
Voting rights groups have pushed counties in Georgia to open up early in-person voting on November 22, 23, and 27. As of Friday, at least nine of the state’s 159 counties had opened up on November 27 for early voting.