Litigation Calls for Ballots to be Sent to All Impacted Voters and an Extension of the Deadline from Election Day to Nov. 14
ATLANTA – The American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia (ACLU of Georgia), American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) and Dechert LLP filed a lawsuit today seeking emergency relief so that nearly 1,000 Cobb County absentee voters will have enough time to cast their votes. The lawsuit seeks to send ballots overnight to each of the 1,000 who still need their absentee ballots and move the deadline from 7 p.m. on Election Day to Nov. 14, which is the same deadline for absentee voters in the military and overseas.
Under state law, election officials must send absentee ballots within three days of receiving an application, but the Cobb County Board of Elections failed to send requested ballots to all voters who requested them. State data shows that up to 250 of the affected absentee voters have voted in person, which still leaves at least 750 voters in need of the absentee ballots they requested. The Board of Elections claimed that they would send ballots overnight, but hundreds of voters who need an absentee ballot still have not received one.
“There is a direct correlation between the state's sweeping anti-voter law, SB 202, and Cobb County's failure to get over a thousand registered voters their absentee ballots,” said Rahul Garabadu, the ACLU of Georgia’s senior voting rights attorney. “The anti-voter law put tremendous pressure on elections officials to accomplish a number of responsibilities under a very tight deadline, and in Cobb County, that pressure has resulted in a huge error and hundreds of voters at risk of being disenfranchised. We are suing to make sure all Cobb County voters are able to have their voices heard, and we look forward to the day when the state partners with counties to make voting easier, not harder, for all Georgians.”
“The deadline for absentee ballot returns must be moved to November 14th -- and all voters entitled to receive an absentee ballot must be mailed one. Cobb County residents should not be stripped of their vote and their voice in government due to the County’s failure to timely mail out ballots,” said Poy Winichakul, senior staff attorney for voting rights with the SPLC. “This demonstrates why states should increase voting access, instead of creating barriers and burdening election workers through laws like SB 202.”
Through Cobb County’s “last call” absentee ballot return program, voters can submit ballots in person at seven libraries throughout the county on Monday. They can also submit absentee ballots at the Cobb County’s main elections office in Marietta on Election Day. Absentee voters who did not receive their ballots can also vote in person at their designated precinct on Election Day.
Prior to SB 202, the state’s sweeping anti-voter law passed after the 2020 election, voters could request an absentee ballot 180 days before an election and the county could mail out the ballots 49 days before an election. SB 202 slashed those numbers by about half to 78 and 29 days, respectively. These shortened windows have unnecessarily burdened elections officials and absentee voters.