ATLANTA (CN) — Attorneys for Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp filed an emergency motion Thursday to stop an injunction issued by a federal judge which would prevent Georgia election officials from rejecting absentee ballots for signature mismatch issues.
The injunction entered Thursday by U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May orders Kemp's office to stop rejecting absentee ballots that are flagged because a voter's signature does not match the signature on their voter registration card and to instead treat the flagged ballots as provisional ballots.
Voters must also be given a pre-rejection notice and an opportunity to resolve the discrepancy or a chance to appeal their rejection at a hearing.
Kemp is currently running as the Republican nominee for Georgia governor against Democrat Stacey Abrams. If she wins, Abrams will become the first black woman to become a governor in American history.
The injunction is a response to two lawsuits filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and other civil rights organizations against Kemp's office and the Gwinnett County Board of Registrations and Elections.
The lawsuits challenge Georgia's controversial "exact match" law, which requires information on absentee ballots, ballot applications and voter registrations to match information in the government's databases.
More than 200 absentee ballots are likely to be affected by the injunction.
But with less than two weeks to go before Election Day, Kemp's attorneys filed an emergency motion Thursday afternoon asking May to halt the injunction while his office appeals the order to the 11th Circuit.
Kemp's attorneys argued that disrupting the electoral process is not in the public interest.
"Last-minute challenges to longstanding election procedures have long been disfavored because they threaten to disrupt the orderly administration of elections, which is essential to the functioning of our participatory democracy," the motion says.
"This Court's preliminary injunction is a case in point; by adding brand new, untested processes ad hoc to long established election procedures at the eleventh hour, it will introduce uncertainty and confusion under extreme time pressure at best, and it risks undermining the integrity of the State's election process," the motion states.
According to a supplemental declaration filed in the case by Georgia elections director Chris Harvey, adding an appeals process to the ballot and ballot application review process is not feasible because votes must be counted and the election must be certified by the Monday after Election Day.
"Creating a new right of appeal for a certain subset of provisional ballots would make it impossible for counties to meet their certification deadlines," Harvey stated.
Gwinnett County election officials argued in responses filed Thursday that allowing for a hearing is unnecessary because a voter whose ballot or ballot application is rejected "simply needs to verify their identity and that they voted the ballot in question."
Putting the injunction on hold until it can be reviewed by the 11th Circuit "will ensure at least a measure of careful deliberation before upending the State's election processes in the middle of a general election," the motion says.Follow @KaylaGoggin_CNS
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