Federal judge orders Georgia to extend deadline for residents to return postal ballots

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Judge Eleanor Ross of the Northern District of the United States of Georgia wrote in that order that these “extraordinary times” are a reason to give voters relief.

“The Court notes that it is reluctant to interfere with Georgia’s statutory electoral mechanism. However, where the risk of denial of the right to vote is great, as is the case here, a tightly tailored injunction is appropriate, ”Ross wrote. “Consequently, the Court considers that it is appropriate to extend by three… working days the time limit for receiving votes by correspondence. The Court emphasizes that the equitable compensation it provides is limited to the November 2020 elections during these extraordinary times. ”

The lawsuit, brought by The New Georgia Project, a non-partisan voter registration group, sought to change state laws associated with the processing of postal ballots in the state, including extending the deadline for receipt of mail ballots after 7 p.m. ET on November 3.

Ross’s order says that ballots that are postmarked on Election Day and delivered by 7 p.m. ET on November 6 must be counted.

The order comes as the U.S. Postal Service braces for an unprecedented amount of ballots being mailed in the 2020 election due to the coronavirus pandemic, which will likely keep many voters away from the virus from polling centers this autumn. Democrats, who have been pushing for expanded access to postal and postal voting, fear that some ballots will not reach election officials on time given the sudden increase in demand for the postal service.

While granting an extension to the deadline for mail-in ballots, Ross’ restraining order denied other changes requested in the lawsuit, including franking of free ballots, prompt notification of deficiencies in applications absence, automatic mailing of ballot papers to all voters and collection of ballot papers by third-party organizations. .

Georgia’s Assistant Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs called the order a “bad idea” and said the state planned to appeal.

“Extending the deadline for receiving postal ballots is a bad idea that will make it nearly impossible for election officials to complete their required post-election tasks within the time frame required by law. We plan to immediately appeal Judge Ross’ ruling, ”Fuchs said in a statement.

CNN’s Liz Stark contributed to this report.

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