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PO Box 843, Zebulon, Georgia 30295. You can donate through PayPal at the link on the bottom of the page. Becky Watts: Phone # 770-468-7583 editor(@)pikecountytimes.com
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11th Circuit Rules On Election Night Ballot Deadline

ATLANTA – The 11th Circuit stayed a district court ruling that would have caused election confusion during the November presidential election in Georgia. The district court ruling, which the Office of the Secretary of State appealed almost immediately, extended the deadline for absentee ballots to be received by county elections officials in 17 out of Georgia’s 159 counties.

“We are glad the 11th Circuit recognized that long-standing Georgia law should remain in place for this election,” said Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. “The absentee ballot receipt deadline remains 7:00 p.m. on Election Day. Georgia’s election officials have made it easier than ever for voters to meet that deadline by creating a quick and easy online absentee ballot request platform, and providing grants for and partnering with the private sector to cover the costs of secure drop boxes to allow contactless and reliable return of absentee ballots.”

Several weeks ago, a federal district court ruled in The New Georgia Project vs. Raffensperger that absentee ballots post-marked by Election Day and received by county elections officials within 3 days after Election Day should be accepted by county elections officials.

The 11th Circuit stayed that ruling, pointing out that “the district court manufactured its own ballot deadline.” In making its decision, the 11th Circuit court upheld the idea that “if [a] trial court misapplies the law we will review and correct the error without deference to that court’s determination.”

The 11th Circuit upheld Georgia’s 7pm absentee ballot return deadline: “Georgia’s decades-old absentee ballot deadline is both reasonable and nondiscriminatory… [A] look at the evidence shows that Georgia’s Election Day deadline does not implicate the right to vote at all.” The 11th Circuit ruling specifically highlighted that the district court’s ruling “ignored evidence that… the percentage of absentee ballots rejected as late was smaller than usual.” According to the 11th Circuit, the district court “offered only a few paragraphs of light analysis before concluding that the Election Day receipt deadline for absentee ballots places a severe burden on voters.”

The 11th Circuit ruling further noted the plethora of options Georgia voters have for accessing the ballot on time and before the deadline: “The district court did not acknowledge these provisions or weigh how they mitigate the Election Day deadline’s impact on the right to vote.”

Georgia is recognized as a national leader in elections. It was the first state in the country to implement the trifecta of automatic voter registration, at least 16 days of early voting (which has been called the “gold standard”), and no excuse absentee voting. Georgia continues to set records for voter turnout and election participation, seeing the largest increase in average turnout of any other state in the 2018 midterm election and record primary turnout in 2020, with over 1.1 million absentee by mail voters and over 1.2 million in-person voters utilizing Georgia’s new, secure, paper ballot voting system.

Submitted 10.5.20