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

The senator's campaign, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Georgia Democratic party allege the restrictions don't apply to runoffs

ATLANTA — Sen. Raphael Warnock's campaign, the state Democratic Party and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee filed a lawsuit against the state of Georgia to allow Saturday early voting ahead of the U.S. Senate runoff.

The parties announced Tuesday they filed the civil lawsuit in Fulton County Superior Court. The lawsuit was not available in Fulton County's online records. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee provided 11Alive with a copy of the document.

The groups allege provisions in Georgia's law limiting Saturday voting after a holiday does not apply to runoffs. State law requires that early voting begin "as soon as possible" but no later than the second Monday before the runoff.

After some initial confusion, the Georgia Secretary of State's office said voting would not be allowed on Saturday, Nov. 26 because it falls after Thanksgiving and a designated state holiday that once celebrated Confederate general Robert E. Lee. Instead, early voting ahead of the runoff would begin Monday, Nov. 28. 

State law bars voting on the second Saturday before an election if a state holiday is held on Thursday and Friday. 

However, the lawsuit alleges these restrictions don't apply to runoffs because that portion of the law mentions only primaries and elections. They say runoffs are a separate category under Georgia law.

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"(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."

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.

Statements from the Warnock campaign, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the state Democratic Party allege the efforts to prevent Saturday voting is suppression.

"Illegal attempts to block Saturday voting are another desperate attempt by career politicians to squeeze the people out of their own democracy and to silence the voices of Georgians," said Warnock campaign manager Quentin Fulks. "We’re aggressively fighting to protect Georgia voters’ ability to vote on Saturday.” 

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.

Warnock faces Republican Herschel Walker in a Dec. 6 runoff after neither candidate got the necessary 50% plus 1 vote share to win the U.S. Senate seat outright earlier this month.

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