The Georgia runoff certainly didn’t need another storyline, but Tuesday the election was handed another twist in a court case as a Georgia judge ruled against a purge of 4,000 voters from state rolls before the runoff election on Jan. 5. The judge in the case is the sister of Stacey Abrams.
U.S. District Judge Leslie Abrams Gardner’s ruling comes after two counties voted to remove a group of voters’ names from their rosters after a pair of complaints alleged that publicly available voter registration data matched unverified change-of-address records by the U.S. Postal Service.
The Muscogee County board filed a motion prior to Gardner’s ruling asking that she recuse herself from the case because of her sister. Stacey Abrams is a strong ally of President-elect Joe Biden, and after losing the Georgia election for governor, she started the New Georgia Project and is affiliated with the voting-rights group Fair Fight.
In early December, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger launched an investigation into several groups, including the New Georgia Project, about their roles in seeking to “aggressively” register “ineligible, out-of-state, or deceased voters” before the Jan. 5 Senate runoff election in the state. The investigation was initiated after a resident complained of getting several postcards from the group to register voters who were dead.
With her relation to Abrams clearly looking like a conflict of interest, Gardner, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama, reviewed the request for recusal but said that she found no reason for doing so.
The U.S. Senate majority will be decided by the Georgia runoff. Republicans currently hold a 50-48 majority, but if Democrats were to win both seats in Georgia, then the tie-breaking votes would be cast by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.