Raffensperger takes issue with Albany judge’s ruling

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger opens up about attacks on him and his family and...
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger opens up about attacks on him and his family and threats from Trump supporters.
Published: Dec. 29, 2020 at 1:30 PM EST
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ATLANTA (WALB) - Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger Tuesday issued a release criticizing one of Albany’s federal court judges.

“An Obama-appointed federal judge issued a ruling yesterday that undermined rule of law in Georgia,” Raffensperger said. “Judge Leslie Abrams Gardner of the Middle District of Georgia, sister of failed gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) enjoining Ben Hill and Muscogee counties from using legal processes under Georgia law to ensure only Georgia voters cast ballots in the January runoffs.”

Raffensperger said the ruling is a “direct attack on rule of law in Georgia and the integrity of elections in this state.”

“And I will not stand for it,” he added. “Without even hearing from Muscogee County, a President Obama-appointed judge has decided to overturn the express will of Georgia law and the county elections officers around the state who follow it.”

Judge Leslie Abrams, Federal Judge. Middle District Court of Georgia
Judge Leslie Abrams, Federal Judge. Middle District Court of Georgia

Raffensperger continued: “Notably, the judge is the sister of Stacey Abrams. On Nov. 18, Stacey Abrams’s organization Fair Fight donated $2.5 million to Senate Majority PAC, for which the plaintiff Majority Forward serves as the nonprofit arm. That donation was the largest to Senate Majority PAC since the November election. According to news reports, Senate Majority PAC is ‘a Democratic super PAC aligned with Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer.’”

“That a judge would rule on a case brought by a group heavily funded by her sister is very concerning.”

On Monday, Gardner allowed the voting of more than 4,000 people whose eligibility had been challenged ahead of the U.S. Senate runoff elections. The order specifically targeted Muscogee and Ben Hill counties.

Raffensperger said Gardner enjoined the Muscogee and Ben Hill boards of elections from proceeding with challenges to the 4,033 and 152 registered voters respectively, who also filed a national change of address notice with the United States Postal Service, indicating they had moved.

Raffensperger said he sent letters to 8,000 such individuals “warning them of the consequences of voting while not a resident of Georgia.”

Raffensperger provided the following portion of Georgia law:

By Georgia law, O.C.G.A. § 21-2-217: “If a person removes to another state with the intention of making it such person’s residence, such person shall be considered to have lost such person’s residence in this state.”

Raffensperger claimed that at no point in the ruling did Gardner acknowledge the voter challenge procedures allowed by Georgia law.

Georgia law outlines a specific process by which Georgians can challenge the qualifications of other registered Georgia voters up until 5 p.m. on the day before Election Day, if the voter casts an absentee ballot, according to Raffensperger.

Here is what the law states:

Any “[s]uch challenge shall be in writing and specify distinctly the grounds of such challenge.” At that point, each challenged voter is entitled to a hearing at which “[t]he burden shall be on the elector making the challenge to prove that the person being challenged is not qualified” (O.C.G.A. § 21-2-229).

Raffensperger said throughout her order, Gardner repeatedly refers to removing individuals from the voter lists.

“The provisions of Georgia law utilized by the Muscogee and Ben Hill Boards of Elections, O.C.G.A. § 21-2-230, deal specifically to the acceptance or rejection of ballots cast by a challenged individual, not to the removal of individuals from voter lists,” Raffensperger said.

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