Obama-appointed Georgia judge undermined ‘rule of law’ with voter purge reversal, top state official says

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Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger accused U.S. District Judge Leslie Abrams Gardner of undermining the rule of law Tuesday after she ordered two county boards of elections to reinstate more than 4,000 people from voter rolls ahead of the Jan. 5 runoff election.

The ruling from Gardner, the sister of former Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, blocked the counties from invalidating the voters because change-of-address data raised questions about their current residency. Raffensperger said Gardner’s decision violated the counties’ rights to pursue challenges meant to uphold election security.

“This ruling is a direct attack on rule of law in Georgia and the integrity of elections in this state, and I will not stand for it,” Raffensperger said in a statement. “Without even hearing from Muscogee County, a President Obama-appointed judge has decided to overturn the express will of Georgia law and the county elections officers around the state who follow it.”


Georgia Secre of State says judge, sister of Stacey Abrams, 

An outspoken supporter of President-elect Joe Biden, Stacey Abrams has played a prominent role in Democratic voter registration drives ahead of the Georgia runoff. The outcome of Georgia’s two races will determine which party controls the Senate.

Raffensperger questioned whether Gardner should have recused herself from the case, given her sister’s affiliation. The secretary of state’s office noted that Abrams’ organization “Fair Fight” donated $2.5 million toward Senate Majority PAC, the parent of the nonprofit Majority Forward, which brought the legal challenge regarding voter rolls in Muscogee and Ben Hill counties.

“That a judge would rule on case brought by a group heavily funded by her sister is very concerning,” Raffensperger added.


County elections officials attempted to invalidate the registrations of more than 4,000 voters whose voter registration data appeared to match unverified change-of-address filings through the U.S. Postal Service.

Gardner determined that the attempts to invalidate votes were in violation of federal law, which calls for voters to provide written confirmation that they have changed their residency before they are removed. The ruling says the counties failed to “include the individualized inquiries necessary to sustain challenges made within 90 days of a federal election,” in keeping with guidelines.


The judge also declined a motion from Muscogee officials who called for her recusal.

“The Court has reviewed the motion and finds no basis for recusal. An Order detailing the Court’s reasoning is forthcoming,” the judge wrote.

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