Georgia Runoffs: Cobb County Fails to Send Absentee Ballots, Again

For the second time in a matter of weeks, many Cobb County voters are on the verge of disenfranchisement
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ATLANTA – The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia (ACLU of Georgia), American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Dechert LLP took renewed legal action last night after the Cobb County Board of Elections failed to send ballots to voters for the second time this election cycle. This follows earlier legal action just one month ago when Cobb County had failed to send absentee ballots to voters for the general election.
 
This latest litigation seeks:

To extend the deadline for receipt of ballots to Dec. 9, the same as for military and overseas ballots.
To allow voters who have not received a ballot for Georgia’s Senate runoff by 2 p.m. on Dec. 6 to use a federal write-in absentee ballot.
For the Cobb County Board of Registrars to deliver ballots to homebound voters.
For Cobb County to notify voters of these changes.

Voting rights groups are encouraging voters who have not yet returned their ballots to vote in person or hand deliver their ballots to ensure their voices are heard, and to call the voter protection hotline at (866) 687-8683 if they need assistance.
 
A copy of the complaint can be found HERE, and a copy of the motion for emergency relief can be found HERE: https://www.splcenter.org/sites/default/files/crowell-v-cobb-boe-tempora...
 
“Anti-democracy politicians in Georgia have created barriers to voting that burden election officials and make it far more likely for them to make mistakes. Now we are seeing the results of that for the second time this cycle, with thousands of Georgians not receiving the absentee ballots they have right to,” said Poy Winichakul, senior staff attorney for voting rights with the SPLC. “That is why it is even more important that communities organize and vote. We encourage all Georgians who have not already sent in their ballots to vote in person or hand deliver their ballots to ensure their voice is heard.”
 
“For the second time in a matter of weeks, many Cobb County voters are on the verge of disenfranchisement because they have not yet received their absentee ballots,” said Rahul Garabadu, senior voting rights attorney at the ACLU of Georgia. “And again, we are seeing the effects of Georgia’s anti-voter law, SB 202, which shortened the runoff period by more than 50%. The law has made it harder for elections administrators to do their job, and for eligible voters to participate in their democracy. We’re in court today to make sure that voters who did everything right are able to make their voices heard during this election.” 
 
“Once again, eligible Cobb County voters who did everything right are on the brink of total disenfranchisement because the county failed to timely issue their absentee ballots. This is unconstitutional, unacceptable, and needs immediate fixing, which is why we are bringing this latest emergency motion,” said Jonathan Topaz, staff attorney with the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project.

Background:
 
Prior to SB 202, the state’s sweeping anti-voter law passed after the 2020 election, voters could request an absentee ballot 180 days before an election and the county could mail out the ballots 49 days before an election. SB 202 slashed those numbers by about half to 78 and 29 days, respectively. These shortened windows have unnecessarily burdened elections officials and absentee voters.
 
Under state law, election officials must send absentee ballots within three business days of receiving an application, but the Cobb County Board of Elections failed to send requested ballots to thousands of voters.

The Southern Poverty Law Center is a catalyst for racial justice in the South and beyond, working in partnership with communities to dismantle white supremacy, strengthen intersectional movements, and advance the human rights of all people. For more information, visit www.splcenter.org.

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