Judge blocks Georgia from rejecting absentee ballots due to mismatched signatures

ATLANTA GA- NOVEMBER 4 Voters turn out to cast their ballots at polling locations

ATLANTA GA- NOVEMBER 4 Voters turn out to cast their ballots at polling locations

One lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and its Georgia chapter on behalf of the Georgia Muslim Voter Project and Asian-Americans Advancing Justice-Atlanta.

May's order covers only part of the controversy over rejected absentee ballots, because mismatched signatures are only one of the issues at hand.

May gave the parties 24 hours to offer objections to her order before she enters a preliminary injunction that could become permanent.

"We've had a steady stream of reported malfunctions of voting machines and refuse to sit idly by while this election is compromised", said NAACP Georgia State President Phyllis Blake.

If the voter's signature on the absentee ballot envelope or absentee ballot application doesn't match the signature on the voter registration card, state law says it should be rejected.

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The voting rights controversy has cast a long shadow over the gubernatorial race pitting Kemp against Stacey Abrams, a former minority leader in the Georgia state house who has also campaigned to register hundreds of thousands of new voters, particularly minority voters who are rapidly changing the demographic and political complexion of a once solid-red southern state. Election officials must then notify the voter via first-class mail and electronic means if available.

"We are pleased that the court has enforced the due process guarantees of the U.S. Constitution", said Sean J. Young, legal director of the ACLU of Georgia, which helped lead the legal challenge against the state's improper rejection of absentee ballots.

"If you requested a mail-in ballot but did not receive your ballot, please vote early, in person", a tweet from the Georgia Democratic Party read Thursday.

The two have long sparred over voting rights and ballot security measures, Abrams as a longtime legislative leader and Kemp as Georgia's top elections official. She had said during a hearing Tuesday that she was especially concerned about people whose signature doesn't match and who may not be able to vote in person if their absentee ballot is rejected, noting that submitting another absentee ballot or application may not fix the problem if the signature still doesn't match.

"Having created an absentee voter regime through which qualified voters can exercise their fundamental right to vote, the state must now provide absentee voters with constitutionally adequate due process protection", she said. "To the contrary, it strengthens it. Defendants argue that signature mismatch rejection is "rare"...[b] ut that...only bolsters Plaintiffs' argument that any additional, constitutionally mandated processes will not be an administrative burden".

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