On Wednesday, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled to allow early voting in the December runoff election for Senate between Republican Herschel Walker and Democrat incumbent Raphael Warnock, the New York Post reported.
The court issued a one-sentence ruling with all nine justices unanimously voting in favor of expanded early voting access. As a result, counties will be allowed, but not mandated, to offer early in-person voting for the December 6 election as soon as Saturday, November 26.
Election laws require that early voting be available statewide from November 28 to December 2. However, court filings noted that 19 Georgia counties with a total population of 4 million plan to offer early voting on November 26.
Following a Fulton County Superior Court decision on Tuesday approving the early voting, the Georgia Republican Party, the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and the Republican National Committee moved to block the ruling.
“Based on the Court’s ruling, counties may provide advance voting on Saturday, November 26, 2022. Further, Defendant is hereby enjoined from interfering in efforts by counties to provide for advance voting on Saturday, November 26, 2022,” wrote Fulton County Superior Court Judge Thomas A. Cox Jr.
Georgia state law prohibits early voting on a Saturday that follows a holiday on Thursday or Friday, Republicans argued. Democrats insisted that the provision does not apply to runoff races, only primary and general elections.
The state court of appeals ruled to uphold the lower court’s decision.
Warnock’s campaign, the Democratic Party of Georgia, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee filed a lawsuit against the state after alleging that Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s interpretation “misreads” and “cherry-picks” the law.
“The Secretary’s insistence that counties may not hold advance voting on November 26 therefore has no support in the law,” the plaintiffs’ lawyers wrote.
Warnock’s campaign insisted that the state’s interpretation of the law negatively impacts his voters since Democrats disproportionately participate in early voting versus Republicans.
In response to the allegations, Raffensperger stated, “Senator Warnock and his Democratic Party 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.”
In the general election, Warnock received 49.4% of the vote, and Walker received 48.5%. The runoff election will determine whether Democrats take the majority in the Senate.