WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Wednesday, Nov. 23, the Georgia Supreme Court unanimously denied a Republican request to block early voting on Saturday, Nov. 26, upholding lower court decisions allowing for early voting on that day. Specifically, the court rejected a petition from the Georgia Republican Party, National Republican Senatorial Committee and Republican National Committee along with a request to stay (meaning pause) the lower court decision allowing for early voting on Saturday, Nov. 26. As a result, Georgia voters will be able to vote early on Saturday Nov. 26 for the Dec. 6 Senate runoff race — a major victory for Georgia voters.
This story began when neither Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) nor his Republican challenger Herschel Walker garnered over 50% of the vote total as required by state law, thus sending the two candidates to a runoff election on Dec. 6, 2022. Then, on Nov. 9, Republican election officials publicly stated that the state would allow for early voting on Saturday, Nov. 26. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) stated that “some counties may likely have Saturday voting following Thanksgiving” and Gabriel Sterling, the secretary of state’s chief operating officer, reiterated on CNN that “there’s a very good possibility we will probably have voting on Saturday Nov. 26 in many of the counties if they so choose.” Following these public statements, on Nov. 12 the Georgia secretary of state’s office released guidance reversing its position, citing a 2016 law that the secretary said prevents early voting on Saturday, Nov. 26, which follows holidays on Thursday (Thanksgiving) and Friday (a “State Holiday” which formerly celebrated Confederate General Robert E. Lee).
In response, the Democratic Party of Georgia, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) and Warnock for Georgia (Sen. Raphael Warnock’s (D-Ga.) campaign for U.S. Senate) filed a lawsuit against the state of Georgia challenging the guidance and arguing that the law in question does not contain the word “runoff,” so early voting on Saturday, Nov. 26 should be permitted. Despite the fact that election denialism, voter suppression and election subversion proved to be unpopular messages during the 2022 midterm elections, in one of their first post-election legal actions since the failed “Red Wave,” the Republican Party intervened in the lawsuit in an attempt to prevent counties from holding early voting on this Saturday. After expedited briefing and a hearing before a Georgia trial court, the trial court agreed with the Democratic plaintiffs that Georgia law “does not specifically prohibit counties from conducting advanced voting on Saturday, November 26, 2022, for a runoff election.” The state of Georgia and the Republican intervenors appealed the decision and asked an appellate court to pause the lower court’s ruling, which the appellate court declined to do. The state of Georgia declined to pursue a further appeal, acknowledging that the “court has worked its will.” But, in a last ditch effort to block voters from having this day of early voting, the Republican intervenors asked the conservative-leaning Georgia Supreme Court to step in and pause the lower court’s ruling. Today, the Georgia Supreme Court declined to do so, while also refusing to hear the case’s merits, putting an end to Republicans’ efforts to limit voting opportunities in the Peach State — yet another rebuke of Republicans’ mission to disenfranchise voters.
As of today, 22 counties plan to have early voting on Saturday, Nov. 26: Bibb, Burke, Chatham, Clarke, Cobb, Crawford, DeKalb, Douglas, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, Mitchell, Muscogee, Newton, Randolph, Rockdale, Screven, Terrell, Troup, Walton and Ware. Today’s decision is a major victory for voters in these counties who will have a convenient day of early voting available to them.