A stack of Georgia voter stickers are displayed at Morris Brandon Elementary School on Tuesday, May 24, 2022 in Atlanta. (Photo: Itoro N. Umontuen/The Atlanta Voice)

There will not be any early voting on the Saturday before the December 6th Senate runoff between Senator Rev. Raphael Warnock, D-Georgia, and Republican opponent Herschel Walker because it will take place on the day after a state holiday that was initially created to honor Confederate general Robert E. Lee.

As a result, there are five days of required in-person early voting on the weekdays before the Dec. 6 runoffs. Each county government has the option to offer a maximum of three more early voting days starting the day after the results of the initial election are certified. In the case of the 2022 U.S. Senate runoffs, early voting could be provided on the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday afterward.

According to guidance published by Georgia Elections Division Director Blake Evans, he cited the law which was passed in 2021:

Advanced Voting on Saturday, November 26 is prohibited by OCGA 21-2-385(d)(1), which states that if the second Saturday before the runoff follows a Thursday or Friday that is a state holiday, voting on that Saturday is not allowed.”

State Representative Jasmine Clark, D-Lilburn, speaks against House Bill 873 from the House Chamber inside the Georgia State Capitol on Thursday, February 3, 2022. House Bill 873 would re-draw commissioner’s districts in Gwinnett County. (Photo: Itoro N. Umontuen/The Atlanta Voice)

“The Republican Party spent a whole lot of time using the record early voting turnout as ‘evidence’ that SB 202 was not a suppressive bill,” said Georgia State Rep. Jasmine Clark, D-Lilburn. “Meanwhile, looming in the shadows, was a rule that would essentially neuter opportunities for those same voters to take part in a crucial runoff. There is no logical rationale to banning early voting on the Saturday after a Thursday or Friday holiday other than to limit the number of weekend days available for early voting in the runoff.”

In Georgia, they commemorate Lee’s birthday on the day after Thanksgiving, which is a state holiday in another 22 states, and is on the same day as Black Friday.

“Coupled with the shortened time frame from 9 weeks to 4 weeks, which makes Election administration extremely difficult, leaves zero room for things like recounts and other potential delays, and disenfranchises voters who would need to vote by mail,” Clark continued. “And the icing on the cake is somehow the remnants of the confederacy always find a way to make an appearance. The fact that Robert E. Lee is the reason why the law bans Saturday voting this year is par for the course in Georgia’s ugly history of racism and voter disenfranchisement.”

Jeezy, James Woodall and Georgia NAACP President Gerald Griggs march toward the Georgia State Capitol on Monday, June 15, 2020. (Photo by: Itoro N. Umontuen/The Atlanta Voice)

Previously, The Georgia General Assembly passed a law which restricted Saturday voting after holidays in 2016. At that time, runoff elections took place nine weeks after Election Day. The recent occurrence took place on January 5, 2021 with the twin runoff races which resulted in Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock winning both of them. 

“A Confederate holiday should not prevent the protection of democracy, which is called voting. That holiday needs to be eliminated,” said Gerald Griggs, president of the Georgia NAACP. “The Georgia NAACP is very concerned about this tactic as a form of voter suppression and will be discussing legal options with our lawyers. We want to encourage the State to allow voting unfettered by unnecessary barriers to the ballot.:

Itoro Umontuen currently serves as Managing Editor of The Atlanta Voice. Upon his arrival to the historic publication, he served as their Director of Photography. As a mixed-media journalist, Umontuen...