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Lawsuits against Georgia voting law moves forward after judge denies motions to dismiss

A mix of institutions and advocacy groups are suing to stop the law, signed into effect this year, alleging it is discriminatory and violates constitutional rights.

ATLANTA — A collection of lawsuits against Georgia's voting law will proceed after a federal district judge on Thursday denied motions by the state to have them dismissed.

The Associated Press reported that eight legal actions in all can now move forward after a series of rulings Thursday by federal Judge J.P. Boulee, a Trump appointee who rejected arguments by State of Georgia defendants - Gov. Brian Kemp and Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger among them - for the lawsuits to be dismissed.

A mix of institutions and advocacy groups are suing across the lawsuits to stop the law, signed into effect this year, alleging it is discriminatory and violates constitutional rights.

Georgia and its associated defendants had argued both that the groups filing suit lacked standing and that the case should be dismissed on the merits.

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In one of the suits, the groups suing Georgia include the Sixth District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Southern Christian Leadership Conference and several other voter groups and community organizations.

Judge Boulee found in that suit, among other things, that the voting rights coalition "have stated a plausible discriminatory purpose claim" to the law, sufficient at least to have the lawsuit heard.

The law signed earlier this year instituted a range of new provisions as a Republican response out of Georgia's state legislature in response to the rancor that surrounded the 2020 presidential election and allegations of fraud.

It required ID for absentee ballots, scaled back drop box access and added a day of early voting, among other provisions.

One of the most contentious of those provisions was restricting groups from giving out food and water to those in voting line. 

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Judge Boulee found that, at least at the motion to dismiss stage of the lawsuit, that the coalition "have plausibly alleged that (the voting law's) restrictions on line relief impinge on speech and/or expressive conduct in some way."

In all, the lawsuits allege violations of the United States Constitution, the Voting Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Rehabilitation Act and/or the Civil Rights Act, by causing "discrimination, undue burden on the right to vote, immaterial voting requirement and abridgement of free speech and expression."

The law sparked a political fire in Georgia after its passage, with Democrats witheringly criticizing it as an attack on voting rights and equivalent to "Jim Crow 2.0" that led to, among other repercussions, Major League Baseball's removal of the All-Star Game from Atlanta.

Georgia's Republican officials adamantly rejected this framing. Kemp has called the critiques "lies and misinformation" and said the law "ensures Georgia elections are secure, accessible and fair."

In Atlanta's recent mayoral election, the law appeared to result in at least some votes not being cast. CNN reported that roughly half of rejections for absentee ballot requests were a product of voters who missed the new deadline to make those requests.

Of those rejected, only about a quarter of voters reportedly went to the polls in person to still cast a ballot.

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