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Federal Judge Rules Against Fair Fight Motion in Georgia Voting Lawsuit

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ATLANTA — A federal judge on Friday evening ruled that Georgia’s election law doesn’t violate voters’ constitutional rights, dealing a blow to Fair Fight Motion, the voting rights group aligned with the Democratic nominee for governor, Stacey Abrams.

U.S. District Court Judge Steven Jones ruled against all of the claims brought by Fair Fight Motion, which had challenged Georgia’s absentee ballot provisions, oversight of voter rolls and the state’s “exact match” law, which mandates that a voter’s name on their voter application be equivalent to their government identification, even within the case of hyphens or accent marks. A majority of the voter applications flagged for inconsistencies in 2018 belonged to voters of color, in response to an investigation by The Associated Press.

“Although Georgia’s election system just isn’t perfect, the challenged practices violate neither the structure nor the Voting Rights Act,” Judge Jones wrote in his 288-page order. The judge, who was nominated by President Barack Obama, added that the “burden on voters is comparatively low” and that Fair Fight Motion didn’t provide “direct evidence of a voter who was unable to vote, experienced longer wait times, was confused about voter registration status.”

The plaintiffs, lots of whom were Georgia voters, had argued that the 2018 election had been marked by plenty of barriers to access to the ballot that had been racially discriminatory. Subsequent research showed that Georgia voters in 2018 saw longer lines in majority-minority precincts, faulty election equipment and undertrained staff.

In a press release, the Fair Fight Motion executive director Cianti Stewart-Reid called the ruling a “significant loss for the voting rights community in Georgia and across the country.”

The ruling, which caps a four-year legal battle between the voting rights group and Georgia’s secretary of state, is a blow to Ms. Abrams, who founded Fair Fight in 2018 after losing to now-Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, by lower than 60,000 votes in her first run for governor. She has said she believes discriminatory election rules were a consider her loss.

“Over the past 4 years, Fair Fight and its allies have exposed a deeply flawed and problematic system,” Ms. Abrams, who’s running in a rematch against Mr. Kemp, said in a press release. “Because the judge says in his first sentence, ‘This can be a voting rights case that resulted in wins and losses for all parties.’ Nonetheless, the battle for voter empowerment over voter suppression persists, and the explanation for voter access endures. I is not going to stop fighting to make sure every vote may be forged, every ballot is counted and each voice is heard.”

In a press release issued on Friday evening, Mr. Kemp said that the ruling “exposes this legal effort for what it truly is: a tool wielded by a politician hoping to wrongfully weaponize the legal system to further her own political goals.”

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