Federal judge won’t extend voter registration in storm-hit Georgia counties

August 20, 2016 Atlanta - Sharon Huff, of Atlanta, fills in voter registration form at the desk of Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Atlanta, in The Sweet Auburn Curb Market on Saturday, August 20, 2016. Advocacy groups have made Georgia one of the most closely watched states for hampering voter turnout come November. Two federal lawsuits have already filed and others are threatened, with the heightened discord forcing Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp to defend the state's handling of voter records as the presidential election looms. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Sharon Huff, of Atlanta, fills in voter registration form. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

A federal judge rejected a civil rights group’s request on Wednesday to extend voter registration in coastal Georgia counties forced to evacuate as Hurricane Matthew approached.

U.S. District Judge William Moore dismissed the American Civil Liberties Union’s lawsuit that would have given residents of the six coastal counties six more days to register to vote. He concluded that granting the motion would have disrupted polling stations that opened Monday for early voting.

The same judge last week ordered Chatham County to re-open voter registration there through Tuesday.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp, who earlier called the lawsuit a “nakedly political stunt,” welcomed the judge’s decision.

“Siding with the ACLU would have wasted valuable resources and caused unnecessary disruptions with voting already underway,” he said. “Now, we can focus on ensuring a secure, accessible, and fair election in our state.”

ACLU of Georgia attorney Kathleen Burch said the decision means “thousands of Georgians will be disenfranchised in November” and said the group was exploring other legal steps.

“Protecting the right to vote is not a political stunt, nor a partisan effort. Our state’s elected leaders should be protecting that right, not undermining it,” she said. “This is a travesty to the people of Georgia and to the democratic process.”

You can read the ruling here.


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