A Georgia judge ruled Monday that two counties in the state cannot purge voter registrations based on unverified change of address data.
The two counties, Ben Hill and Muscogee, attempted to purge thousands of voters based on what local officials called unreliable change of address data. In Muscogee, which President-elect Joe Biden won by a wide margin, elections officials wanted to purge 4,000 voters. In Ben Hill, elections officials wanted to purge about 150 voters.
U.S. District Judge Leslie Abrams Gardner, the sister of voting rights advocate Stacey Abrams, ordered the two counties from purging voters due to an address change.
“Defendants are enjoined from removing any challenged voters in Ben Hill and Muscogee Counties from the registration lists on the basis of National Change of Address data,” Gardner wrote in the order.
The suit was brought forward by Democracy Forward, a legal group led by an attorney for the Democratic party, according to Politico. Attorney Marc Elias told The Hill this wouldn’t be the last attempt to purge voter rolls, but they would fight it every time.
“We continue to monitor how other Georgia counties respond to the suppression scheme,” Elias said. “Where necessary, we will sue and we will win.”
The initial challenge to voter registration rolls was the result of a citizen who told Muscogee election officials he accessed publicly available voting data to allege some voters on the rolls have moved out of state.
The Georgia Senate runoffs between Rev. Raphael Warnock and Kelly Loeffler and Jon Ossoff vs. David Perdue are expected to be highly contested. The polls have both races within a point and both Democrats and Republicans have poured significant money into the races.
Control of the U.S. government is at stake in these races. If Warnock and Ossoff win, Democrats will have full control of the government with nothing standing in their way. If Republicans win one of the races, they will be able to limit what President-elect Joe Biden can accomplish during his term.