District Court Judge Leslie Abrams Gardner, an Obama appointee, ruled that Ben Hill County still cannot remove any voters from voter rolls but said the Muscogee County Board of Elections and Registration can remove voters if they do not rely solely on the U.S. Postal Service’s National Change of Address system.
The board must allow voters whose eligibility has been challenged to cast a provisional ballot in the Jan. 5, 2021, runoff elections. They also must advise the voter of specific evidence of ineligibility by phone and in writing by Jan. 6, and advise the voter of their right to be heard and present evidence in response to the findings.
It came after the court held a hearing Wednesday.
The county argued that plaintiffs did not meet their burden of proving they're likely to succeed in the suit.
"No ballot of any of the challenged ballots will be rejected unless the Board finds clear and convincing evidence that the ballot was not cast by a Georgia resident," they wrote.
The lawsuit was brought by nonprofit Majority Forward. According to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, the nonprofit is an arm of a political action committee that received $2.5 million from Fair Fight, a voter rights group headed by former gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams.
Abrams, a Democrat, is Judge Gardner's sister.
Muscogee officials asked Gardner to recuse herself, but the judge refused.
She argued that Fair Fight is not a party to the lawsuit. She then alleged there is "no legitimate reason" for her to recuse.