A Georgia appeals court on Monday left in place a lower court order allowing counties to offer early voting on the Saturday after Thanksgiving in the state’s Senate runoff election.
State election officials had argued that early voting on November 26 was not allowed because it violated state law prohibiting voting on Saturday if there is a state holiday on the Thursday or Friday before.
Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker are facing off in a runoff on December 6 after neither earned a majority of the vote earlier this month.
The original suit seeking to allow voting on Saturday had been brought by Warnock’s campaign, joined by the Georgia Democratic Party and Democrats’ Senate campaign arm. They argued that the state law did not apply to runoff elections. A joint statement from those groups called Monday’s appeals court ruling a “victory for every Georgia voter.”
The appeal came after Fulton County Superior Court Judge Thomas Cox issued a written ruling on Friday allowing early voting on Saturday.
“The Court finds that the absence of the Saturday vote will irreparably harm the Plaintiffs, their members, and constituents, and their preferred runoff candidate,” Cox had written.
Mike Hassinger, a spokesman for Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, said in a statement following the ruling, “The Court has worked its will. We believe this is something the General Assembly should consider clarifying to avoid confusion in the future. I hope that election workers are able to enjoy a somewhat restful holiday despite this decision.”
Early in-person voting in the runoff election will officially begin Tuesday in at least one of Georgia’s 159 counties. Douglas County, located in the greater Atlanta region with around 150,000 residents, will offer early in-person voting on the first date a county can opt to hold it.
Early voting must begin statewide on November 28 and end on December 2. However, counties have the option of offering some additional dates after the state’s certification of its 2022 general election results, which happened on Monday.
No counties are allowed to hold voting on Thanksgiving or Friday.
Some counties, including Chatham, DeKalb and Fulton have opted to hold early voting on Saturday.