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Federal Court Blocks Georgia From Throwing out Absentee Ballots

Voting, voters

A federal court stopped Georgia’s attempt of discarding absentee ballots and applications because signatures didn’t match, USA Today reports.

District Judge Leigh Martin May placed a temporary restraining order that gives voters enough time to challenge Georgia’s initial claim and to confirm their identity.

“The court does not understand how assuring that all eligible voters are permitted to vote undermines the integrity of the election process,” May said, per USA Today. “To the contrary, it strengthens it.”

Under state law, election officials can discard vote-by-mail ballots if there’s a signature mismatch in the person’s paperwork.

Prior to the court’s decision, voters could not contest Georgia’s decision. The new ruling allows them to get provisional ballots that can be viewed after Election Day, per the report.

“Permitting an absentee voter to resolve an alleged signature discrepancy … has the very tangible benefit of avoiding disenfranchisement,” said Judge May.

Brian Kemp, Republican gubernatorial candidate and Georgia’s current secretary of state, held 53,000 voter registrations because voters’ information did not exactly match what was on file at Georgia Department of Driver Services or the Social Security Administration.

He’s been accused of voter suppression tactics in the gubernatorial race against Democrat Stacey Abrams, who’s looking to become the first African-American woman governor; a claim which he denies.

“I took the oath of office to serve as the secretary of state and that’s what I’m going to continue to do. Anybody that knows about elections in Georgia know it’s our county election officials that are actually holding the election,” he said during a debate against Abrams on Tuesday. “I’m doing the exact same thing that Democrat Cathy Cox was doing when she was running for governor.”

Georgia’s NAACP filed a complaint with county officials claiming that voting machines were improperly giving votes cast for Abrams to Kemp.

“The essence of our democracy is at stake,” Derrick Johnson, president of the NAACP, told USA Today.

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