Democrats sue for Saturday voting in Georgia Senate runoff

Senator Reverend Warnock held a press conference, Tuesday Nov. 15, 2022, at a Dekalb County Early Voting Location, calling for an expansion of early voting on Saturdays. Warnock's campaign, the DSCC, and the Democratic Party of Georgia have filed a lawsuit to allow Saturday voting. (Matthew Pearson/WABE)

Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock’s campaign is suing to allow a Saturday of early voting in Georgia’s Senate runoff with Republican nominee Herschel Walker.

The Georgia Secretary of State’s office says state law prevents Saturday voting within two days of a state holiday.

Thanksgiving falls in the middle of the four-week Senate runoff, which was shortened from nine weeks by the new Georgia voting law passed last year. The only Saturday in the early voting period comes just after Thanksgiving. 

“We just saw an election in November where the people of Georgia made it clear they want to use Saturday voting,” Warnock told reporters on Tuesday in the gymnasium of an Atlanta recreation center. “There’s nothing in the law as it’s currently written to prevent it.”

The lawsuit is being filed jointly with the Democratic Party of Georgia and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is standing by his office’s interpretation of the law.

“Senator Warnock and his Democratic Party allies are seeking to change Georgia law right before an election based on their political preferences,” Raffensperger wrote in a statement. “Instead of muddying the water and pressuring counties to ignore Georgia law, Senator Warnock should be allowing county election officials to continue preparations for the upcoming runoff.”

The Democratic groups and the Secretary of State’s office disagree whether the relevant provision in Georgia code, first added in 2016, relates applies to runoffs or just primary and general elections, which have a longer early voting period. 

Counties have to have a minimum five days early, in-person voting, beginning no later than Monday, November 28th and ending at the end of the day on Friday, December 2nd. Counties can currently also offer early voting if they choose on the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving and on Sunday, November 27.

Absentee ballots for the runoff must be requested by Monday, November 28th. Only voters who registered before November 8th are eligible to vote in the runoff.