In the months leading up to the 2018 midterm elections, Georgia’s gubernatorial race has become a contentious fight for the state’s top spot. At the center of the battle is a long-held practice of voter suppression, mainly targeting minorities, and almost always benefitting the Republican party. On Wednesday, the state inched closer to correcting the discriminatory action.
In a move toward voter justice, a federal judge ordered that election officials must end the practice of rejecting absentee ballots and absentee ballot applications when a signature does not match the signature on file. Instead, voters must be given the opportunity to “fix the problem.”
The order comes after the Georgia chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda filed lawsuits alleging that court officials were improperly rejecting absentee ballots. The claims argued that by not giving voters an opportunity to contest the decision, their constitutional rights were being violated. The latter also claimed that election officials were deeming applications and ballots inadmissible because of technical errors such as a mixup between birth dates and the current date.
Voter suppression was a hot topic at the most recent gubernatorial debate, as Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams alleged that opponent and current Secretary of State for Georgia, Brian Kemp, used his position to purge votes and scare voters from casting ballots. Although Kemp denies the claim, an analysis by the Associated Press found that of the 53,000 voters affected by the purge, 70 percent are African Americans.