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Update: Lawsuit over Georgia early Saturday voting in Senate runoff will be heard this week

It will be held on Nov. 18, more than a week before Saturday Nov. 26 that has been ruled out by the state as an early voting day because of Thanksgiving.

ATLANTA — A Fulton County Superior Court judge will hear arguments over a lawsuit trying to compel Georgia election officials to allow a Saturday early voting day in the state's U.S. Senate runoff.

A hearing before Judge Thomas A. Cox Jr. will take place Friday, according to online court records. Cox issued the order Wednesday. A hearing had previously been set for Nov. 23.

The lawsuit centers around voting on Saturday, Nov. 26.

Georgia law bars voting on the second Saturday before an election if a state holiday is held on Thursday and Friday. In this case, the holidays are Thanksgiving, Thursday Nov. 24, and a designated state holiday for Nov. 25.

(The state no longer names that day in its official holiday proclamations, but it historically has been celebrated as Robert E. Lee's birthday.)

RELATED: Warnock campaign, Democratic groups to Georgia in lawsuit: You must allow Saturday early voting

Democratic incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock and allies, including the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, filed the lawsuit Tuesday.

The groups allege provisions in Georgia's law limiting Saturday voting after a holiday does not apply to runoffs. They argue the section of the law that lays out the holiday restriction mentions only primaries and elections.

"(The) exceptions for advance voting on Saturdays falling on or after a holiday applies only to primary and general elections, not runoffs. If the legislature desired otherwise, it 'knew how' to say so and its decision not to refer to runoffs—which it references elsewhere throughout the provision—should be respected as a 'matter of considered choice,'"  the lawsuit reads. "The Secretary’s insistence that counties may not hold advance voting on November 26 ... has no support in the law."

RELATED: Here's when early voting for the Senate runoff begins - on a Sunday - in some metro Atlanta counties

In response to the lawsuit, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Warnock and his allies are "seeking to change Georgia law right before an election based on their political preferences."

"Instead of muddying the water and pressuring counties to ignore Georgia law, Senator Warnock should be allowing county election officials to continue preparations for the upcoming runoff," he said.

The lawsuit seeks to allow counties to offer early voting on Nov. 26 if they so choose and to prevent the state from stopping them. 

Some advocates for the Nov. 26 date have pointed out that early voting was allowed on Sat. Dec. 26 in 2020, the day after Christmas. A Georgia Secretary of State spokesperson told 11Alive the law was "revised to provide for more uniformity in early voting days" after the 2020 runoff.

Many counties have already gone ahead with planning for early voting, designating Sunday Nov. 27 an advance voting day.

Note: This story was updated after additional documents were filed in the case.


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