Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock delivers a speech during a campaign rally at the John Lewis Mural in Atlanta on Thursday, November 10, 2022. (Photo: Itoro N. Umontuen/The Atlanta Voice)

Tuesday morning the Democratic Party of Georgia, the Senator Raphael Warnock campaign and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) announced their collective intention to file a lawsuit to allow Saturday voting in the U.S. Senate runoff election in Georgia.

The suit is challenging the 2016 law that forbids Saturday voting if a state or federal holiday comes before or after that day.

“Illegal attempts to block Saturday voting are another desperate attempt by career politicians to squeeze the people out of their own democracy and to silence the voices of Georgians,” said Quentin Fulks, Warnock for Georgia Campaign Manager. “We’re aggressively fighting to protect Georgia voters’ ability to vote on Saturday.” 

The law is referenced in the following guidance:

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.”

“Republicans are once again attempting to rig the system to disenfranchise voters’ right to participate in our democracy,” said Christie Roberts, DSCC Executive Director. “Democrats are committed to fighting back against the Republican campaign of voter suppression and protecting the right of Georgians to early vote on Saturday.” 

The Democrats claim the Secretary of State’s office has erroneously applied the law to the U.S. Senate runoffs because the rule only considers the “primary or general election.” 

Senate Bill 202 changed the length of any statewide runoff election from nine weeks to four 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 defeating former U.S. Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler respectively.

“The Secretary of State’s guidance regarding Saturday runoff voting is deeply concerning for anyone who believes in the right to vote, and it clearly contradicts Georgia law,” Rebecca DeHart, Democratic Party of Georgia Executive Director. “We will use every legal tool at our disposal to ensure that Georgia counties can offer voters ample opportunity to cast their ballot as laid out in state law.”

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.

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...