U.S. District Judge Steve Jones has ruled that all Georgia counties must count absentee ballots that have an “incorrect or missing” date of birth. He has stopped the state from declaring the elections results until all these ballots are recorded.
However, Jones didn’t give democrats everything they wanted. He did not require counties to accept absentee ballots with incorrect residence addresses, or to accept provisional ballots cast by people who attempted to vote in a different county than where they are registered to vote.
“Plaintiffs have shown that they are entitled to preliminary injunctive relief as to the absentee ballot (date of birth) issue,” Jones wrote in an order finalized late Wednesday.
“Plaintiffs have not shown that they are entitled to preliminary injunctive relief as to the absentee ballot (residence) issue and provisional ballot issues.”
Gwinnett County, Georgia was already under a separate court order to count ballots missing birth-dates, and the Secretary of State’s office provided guidance to counties Monday that said they could accept absentee ballots missing a voter’s date of birth, even though it wasn’t required at the time.
Many people think that if a person can’t accurately fill out a provisional ballot, there’s something fishy about the entire vote.
Secretary of State Robyn Crittenden has been ordered to adjust vote totals for counties that re-evaluate absentee ballots.
Austin Chambers, an advisor to Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp, said the ruling would impact less than 800 ballots statewide.
“Again, still nowhere near enough to change the race,” Chambers tweeted. “This is over.”
Abrams is about 19,000 votes short.
During Tuesday’s hearing, the judge asked why counties were given a choice on the absentee ballot issue.
“Why should people in Gwinnett County get theirs counted and people in 158 other counties not get theirs counted?” Jones said.
The state has a Tuesday deadline to finalize election results, but Jones’ ruling overrules that.
“The Secretary of State is ENJOINED from certifying the State Election results until she has confirmed that each county’s returns include the counts for absentee ballots where the birth date was omitted or incorrect,” he wrote.
Under Georgia law, the precinct is key. If a person doesn’t vote in the right county, those provisional ballots are only counted if the county determines residency and that another vote wasn’t already cast.
Jones said the Secretary of State’s argument that ‘changing the rules to allow people to vote in a different county than where they are registered to vote could potentially allow for fraud in the future.’