Georgia Voter Intimidation Case Will Head to Trial

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On Thursday, March 9, a federal judge issued an order in a lawsuit filed on behalf of Fair Fight and two voters alleging that True the Vote — an organization that has been accused of voter intimidation since 2012 — violated Section 11(b) of the Voting Rights Act, which prevents voter intimidation. The order focused on motions for summary judgment, which is when a party asks the judge to rule on a portion or all of a case without a full trial by arguing and presenting evidence that their side is right. In this case, both the plaintiffs and defendants filed cross motions for summary judgment asserting that the facts supported their arguments and that the judge should rule in their favor. However, today a federal judge ruled that the facts were disputed by the different sides and summary judgment could not be issued on all of the claims, mainly the Section 11(b) voter intimidation claims, so the case will proceed to trial. 

The plaintiffs in the case assert that True the Vote “launched a massive, multifaceted campaign of voter intimidation” before the 2021 U.S. Senate runoff elections in Georgia. The plaintiffs allege that the defendants violated Section 11(b), encouraged election officials to violate state and federal law and conducted frivolous voter challenges. The plaintiffs also contend that True the Vote intimidated voters and “offered a $1 million ‘bounty’ for reports of voter fraud[;] recruited Navy SEALS to confront voters and poll workers and, with the help of individual Defendants and state Republican Party officials, launched the largest mass challenge effort in Georgia history, targeting hundreds of thousands of voters just two weeks before the January 2021 runoff election.” In response, the defendants argue that Section 11(b) requires “a direct connection between the person claiming to be intimidated and the alleged perpetrator,” which they argue doesn’t exist in the case. They also contend that applying Section 11(b) to their voter challenges would prohibit them from protecting their vote from vote dilution; today, a judge rejected this claim. As for the remaining claims raised in the cross motions for summary judgment, the judge concluded that “[u]ltimately, these factual disputes are material to most of the claims and defenses at issue, and accordingly, summary judgment is not appropriate.” For example, the judge noted that he was presented “with two drastically different accounts of True the Vote’s process of making the challenged voter lists.” This means that the case will continue and the claims will be the subject of a trial. 

Read the order here.

Learn more about the case here.

Learn more about intimidation and disenfranchisement in the Georgia Senate runoffs here.