Federal judge rejects election lawsuit brought by Loeffler, Perdue

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A federal judge rejected on Friday an election-related lawsuit brought my Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, R-Ga.

Filed Thursday, the complaint aimed to force elections authorities in Georgia to segregate ballots cast by voters who registered after Nov. 3 over concerns that people are moving to the state simply to cast votes in the Senate runoffs. 

According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, U.S. District Court Judge Lisa G. Wood rejected their request and said their case didn't contain enough evidence for standing in the lawsuit.

The federal lawsuit's main claim was that the Georgia Constitution bars people from voting in a runoff election who would not have been eligible to vote in the state during the general election. It asks that the court require Georgia election authorities to segregate ballots from voters who registered between Nov. 4 and Dec. 7 to check whether or not they voted in another state this year. 

The suit, on which Loeffler and Perdue's campaigns and the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) are parties, comes after calls from celebrities, activists and others for people to move to Georgia to register there and vote in the runoffs. 

Georgia NRSC, Perdue, Loeff… by Fox News

"In Georgia, a run-off election is a continuation of the general election or the special election," the suit says, citing Article II, Section II of the Georgia Constitution.

"A run-off election shall be a continuation of the general election and only persons who were entitled to vote in the general election shall be entitled to vote therein; and only those votes cast for the persons designated for the runoff shall be counted in the tabulation and canvass of the votes cast," the provision says. 

What that means, the suit claims, is that a person who was not a Georgia resident on Nov. 3 may not move to Georgia and cast a ballot in the Jan. 5 runoffs. It is not clear how the court will interpret that exact provision, as in the U.S. it is generally permissible for people to vote in one state, move to another state and establish legal residency, then vote in an election held at a later date in the new state. The lawsuit also makes claims related to the federal Voting Rights Act, though the definition of "double-voting" in the lawsuit does not appear to match the definition of "[v]oting more than once" in the provision cited by the lawsuit. 

Loeffler, Perdue and the NRSC say elections authorities in Georgia are not taking adequate precautions to prevent people from moving to the state and voting in the runoff. 

The suit claims that "[a]t least 978 of the individuals identified on the new registrant list previously voted in the 2020 general election in another state. At least 425 of these individuals voted in a state where a U.S. Senate race was held." It says "there are likely hundreds of more such individuals."

U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler speaks during a debate with Democratic challenger for U.S. Senate Raphael Warnock, Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Ben Gray, Pool)

"There is too much at stake in these elections for there to be any doubt in the integrity and transparency of their outcomes," Perdue and Loeffler said in a joint statement. "Georgians will not tolerate double-voting and failures to address out-of-state voters attempting to influence the results of these elections. Immediate action is required to ensure that doesn't occur. We must secure the accuracy and integrity of the January run-offs, because all legal Georgia votes must be counted."

The suit comes after Republican Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who Perdue and Loeffler have called on to resign, last month warned of groups trying to register out-of-state voters in Georgia.

State Attorney General Chris Carr, a Republican, also issued a warning about residency requirements last month. He was lauded for that by Gov. Brian Kemp, who said "anyone who registers to vote or attempts to vote knowing they do not meet the residency requirements will be guilty of a felony under Georgia law."

Republican candidate for U.S. Senate Sen. David Perdue speaks during a campaign rally on Friday, Nov. 13, 2020, in Cumming, Ga. Perdue and Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff are in a runoff election for the Senate seat in Georgia. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

The Georgia attorney general, and the secretary of state's office declined to comment, citing pending litigation.  The campaigns for Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock — Perdue and Loeffler's runoff opponents — did not immediately return requests for comment.

The lawsuit is yet another piece of election-related litigation in a year that has been chock full of them since March.

Specifically, after the presidential election, President Trump and his allies have filed dozens of lawsuits advancing unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud. Those suits have been repeatedly rejected by federal courts. Loeffler and Perdue have backed Trump's election-related efforts, with Loeffler this week repeatedly refusing to acknowledge that President-elect Biden won the election. 

But the complaint filed by Loeffler, Perdue and the NRSC does not seek to change the result of an election. Instead, it asks the court to take specific measures addressing an issue that has been previously acknowledged by the Georgia governor, attorney general and secretary of state — all three of whom have publicly backed the integrity of Georgia's general election and Biden's victory there. 

The suit will also have to withstand scrutiny on procedural issues, including standing and timeliness, which have doomed other election suits recently. 

Lisa G. Wood, a George W. Bush appointee, is presiding over the case.   

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