ATLANTA (CN) — With less than three weeks to go before a historic election in Georgia, lawsuits are piling up against state elections officials, including Secretary of State and current GOP candidate for governor Brian Kemp.
Kemp, who has refused to step down from his position as Georgia's top election official during his campaign for governor, is in a neck-and-neck race against Democrat Stacey Abrams. A new poll released Wednesday showed Kemp one point ahead of Abrams.
With Kemp on the campaign trail, multiple lawsuits a day have been filed in Atlanta federal court bringing various allegations of voter suppression against his office.
One complaint alleges that officials in Georgia's second most-populous county are rejecting scores of absentee ballots over allegedly "inconsistent" voter signatures, another claims that Kemp's office is withholding information about a massive voter purge from an investigative journalist, and yet another claims that the Secretary of State is blocking over 50,000 voter registrations from being processed.
In Fulton County, the largest county in the state by population, a Democratic candidate for the Georgia House of Representatives now claims that the Georgia GOP has launched a defamatory campaign against him.
Josh McLaurin, the Democratic nominee for Georgia's House District 51, filed suit against the Georgia Republican Party on October 16. McLaurin alleges that GOP officials sent out mailers to voters in the district claiming that he is subject to "ongoing criminal investigations."
"The truth was that allies of Mr. McLaurin's opponent, [Alex] Kaufman, and the State GOP worked with attorneys to file administrative complaints with Georgia state agencies alleging that Mr. McLaurin had violated certain Georgia statutes. Then, the State GOP attempted to claim that these administrative filings constituted a criminal investigation," the complaint states.
McLaurin was accused of not meeting the residency requirements to run for office but was cleared to campaign after an administrative law judge reviewed the case in April.
But in October, the Georgia Republican Party sent out mailers to Fulton County voters with the headline "Josh McLaurin Under Investigation." A subheading written on a graphic of a manila file folder said "The McLaurin Files - Ongoing Criminal Investigations."
Another mailer sent out in October states "Josh McLaurin wants to be your representative but cannot follow the law," the complaint says.
The complaint states that McLaurin was not accused of any criminal wrongdoing.
According to the complaint, the Georgia GOP has refused to retract its statements claiming that McLaurin was subject to criminal investigation.
McLaurin alleges that the Georgia Republican Party's actions were defamatory and is asking a Fulton County judge for punitive and compensatory damages.
"If the State GOP is not held accountable for its lies, then politicians and political parties in Georgia will feel free to manufacture whatever lies they can dream up to win elections, the voters will be inundated with false information, and good people will refuse to offer themselves to run for public office," the complaint says.
Also on October 16, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a class action suit in Atlanta federal court against Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp and the Gwinnett County elections board on behalf of two organizations, claiming that Georgia's elections policies unfairly require officials to reject absentee ballots and ballot applications over allegedly invalid signatures.