U.S. Justice Department challenges Georgia’s runoff calendar

The U.S. Justice Department is threatening a legal challenge to the way that Georgia conducts federal – i.e., congressional — runoff elections, declaring that the state doesn’t give enough time for members of the military overseas to receive and return ballots.

Federal law requires that ballots be available to overseas personnel at least 45 days before the vote. That would require ballots for an Aug. 21 primary runoff to be issued by July 7 – or three weeks before the first round of voting.

Read the original notice, received last week, here. To make sure overseas votes are counted, the DOJ has proposed a consent order – click here to read it — that would require the state to hold off declaring official winners of an Aug. 21 primary runoff by seven working days, until Aug. 31. (A similar cushion would be added to any Dec. 4 general election runoff that involves federal office.)

Secretary of State Brian Kemp has declared he won’t agree to the DOJ demands, and implies that the action is simply an attempt by a Democratic administration to muddy a red state’s electoral affairs. From a statement:

Three days after sending notification of the DOJ’s authorization to sue the State of Georgia, the DOJ sent a proposed consent decree for the State to execute with the understanding that the DOJ would file the consent decree simultaneously with the DOJ’s lawsuit in federal court.

If the DOJ was earnest, they would have previously contacted us about their concerns rather than sending a notice of a lawsuit a month before the Primary Election. Georgia is literally in the middle of the 2012 Primary. Currently, ballots have been printed and absentee voters (military and overseas included) are voting, while the DOJ is attempting to twist the State’s arm into agreeing to a consent decree, the terms of which would place unnecessary stresses on the elections administration process, before even filing the lawsuit.

The DOJ has not previously expressed concerns about Georgia’s compliance with the MOVE Act, or Georgia’s ability to transmit absentee ballots to UOCAVA voters. In fact, the DOJ approved Georgia’s timing for run-off elections in 2005 after the General Assembly altered prior election laws.

Bottom line: If the DOJ gets all that it asks for, we could have a significant delay in a declared winner in two congressional races – the new 9th District and the 12th District. It makes little difference in the 9th District. There is a Democrat, Gainesville attorney Jody Cooley, but the district is very, very weighted toward the GOP.

But the Republican race for the 12th District is a contest to challenge Democratic incumbent John Barrow of Augusta. And a delayed or confused GOP finish could work to Barrow’s advantage.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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30 comments Add your comment

Mild Mannered Moderate

June 22nd, 2012
1:45 pm

And this is why I’m not a conservative. Both liberals and conservatives have tried to disenfranchise our men and women in uniform. Its a shame. Both sides are bad. Republicans do it for their people and liberals do it for their people. Both sides are equally bad.

But the secretary of state is right about one thing, the justice department isn’t really going to DO anything about it. The courts will never resolve it in time and its not like they’re going to arrest the Georgia state AG.

Jim S.

June 22nd, 2012
1:55 pm

If Federal law requires 45 days notice, then why aren’t we in compliance? Has this Federal law been in place for a long time? If so, why haven’t we sought some agreement with DOJ before now? If this has been the status quo for a while, then why is DOJ just now enforcing this? Of course this is only the second congressional election cycle that the current administration has been in power and it could simply be a problem that this AG’s office is trying to correct. Are our military personnel being neglected due to the manner in which we conduct our run-off elections? If so, then I think we need to work to correct that problem.

Hmmmm

June 22nd, 2012
2:03 pm

Why do we still have runoffs in the south? It’s remnants of Jim Crow. Do away with them!

Auntie Christ

June 22nd, 2012
2:04 pm

MMM says: “Both liberals and conservatives have tried to disenfranchise our men and women in uniform.” By your comment you show you haven’t the slightest idea what is at issue here. The suit and consent order are exactly about making sure overseas ballots from citizens and military ARE counted. As Jim S states above, why does our SoS, the official charged with making sure elections are conducted according to law, have no knowledge of the law. Why doesn’t he want every vote to be counted? And, to try and cover his ignorance or to try to justify his non-compliance he blames the big, bad, evil federal government, knowing that your typical members of the know nothing party will swallow this without question.

yuzeyurbrane

June 22nd, 2012
2:09 pm

Georgia has no moral standing to question the political motives behind the DOJ position after its brazen gerrymandering of Congressional and state legislative districts.

Old timer

June 22nd, 2012
2:20 pm

I thought this was the calendar set up when we were challenged in2005, I think it was. Giveme a break…

GaNative

June 22nd, 2012
2:45 pm

Is it too much to ask that Brian Kemp follow the law in setting elections? His job performance is abyssmal.

GaBlue

June 22nd, 2012
2:58 pm

AS IF our state government needs help muddying up our electoral affairs! The red political clay has already stained everything.

shady

June 22nd, 2012
3:08 pm

Georgia is far too moderate to Progressive to have so many sleazebags Right Wingnuts Conservatives sponsoring Charter Schools, That will destroy Public Education for all. Controlling Women, and terrorizing their doctors, suppressing the Vote and extremely PUNITIVE in its Justice system to have all these “Conservatives” ruining everything and they being the only ones making money. School Cutbacks, and the like!

shady

June 22nd, 2012
3:09 pm

Yes we will be providing Information about the July Primaries and the Upcoming Elections to see if we get rid of the Nut with Wings.

ld

June 22nd, 2012
4:45 pm

Is Kemp trying to dis – count the value of Georgia’s voters?

ld

June 22nd, 2012
4:48 pm

Mild Mannered Moderate:

The DOJ should not need to arrest Kemp; the State House should impeach and remove him.

James

June 22nd, 2012
5:29 pm

More political meddling from the DOJ. Soon enough the partisan clowns will be gone.

Attack Dog

June 22nd, 2012
6:13 pm

1. If Dixiecrats don’t trust their Goper leaders, why are they bashing the DOJ? 2. The DOJ should be meddling because the Dixiecrats are, in Dixiecrats own words their political leaders are crooks, corrupt, liars, cheats, immoral, and unethical. 3. The partisan clowns are the ones who sign pledges rather than uphold the constitution, or read the Constitution but have no clue as to its meaning.

Attack Dog

June 22nd, 2012
6:21 pm

Did your grandparents have to pay a poll tax, or have to pass a voters’ test, or denied the opportunity to vote, or lynched for wanting to vote? If the answer is yes, then we can listen to our opposition to the DOJ.

Attack Dog

June 22nd, 2012
6:26 pm

Isn’t it funny to hear Dixiecrats claim to be the Party of Lincoln when they never knew their history? The Party of Lincoln in the South started leaving during the Hayes Administration and didn’t really start moving to the Party of Roosevelt until Strom established the Dixiecrat Party. I hope Romney wins and the Dixiecrats take over the US just like they have in GA. Then Dixiecrats will realize that the enemy is them!!!

Attack Dog

June 22nd, 2012
6:29 pm

How many Dixiecrats remember Alberto “I can’t remember crap” Gonzales running the DOJ? The clock is ticking!!!

td

June 22nd, 2012
8:19 pm

It is very interesting that only solid red states have voter problems with this administration. Obama would not be President now if it was not for vote fixing in Chicago twenty years ago and we all know that there are many dead people still voting in Chicago every election.

The DOJ under this regime is nothing more then a political enforcement tool for the Democratic party. What a joke.

Bill

June 22nd, 2012
8:34 pm

Shady says we will destroy the public schools … uhhh they ain’t woth a crap anyway in spite of all the money we throw down the drain after them. Shady obviously is a product of them.

Lou

June 22nd, 2012
9:01 pm

So the DOJ is trying to read words into a law that aren’t actually there? A “yes” answer to that question shouldn’t surprise anyone when the Obama Justice Department is involved.

So the DOJ has never previously raised this issue with the state and then decides to send a threatening letter and bully the state into a court settlement? And the DOJ’s lawsuit is based on a runoff election that might not ever occur? It seems like the DOJ could have notified someone that they believed Georgia’s runoffs violated federal law sometime last year so it could be fixed. I guess Obama and Holder were so busy trying to tell the supreme court how to practice law that they couldn’t get around to this issue until the 2012 elections. These political jokers in the White House do not need to be leading the USA.

Kris

June 22nd, 2012
9:23 pm

Heck the DOJ should investigate all past elections in Georgia. When done there start at the capitol all the way down to the last troll under GA $$$. Just saying.

yuzeyurbrane

June 22nd, 2012
9:33 pm

td, your take on DOJ enforcement of voting rights in red states is what is interesting to me. Now, what alternative explanation could there be? These are the states engaging in voter suppression? No, not possible; not worth even a mention as a possibility, especially our pure old Confederacy states. FYI, Illinois is not 1 of states subject to Voting Rights Act and misdeeds you describe there show you are seriously out of date as to more recent record. I don’t know if you ever saw the movie, “Goodbye Columbus”. I saw it with a friend’s family. In the movie, the young bride was a real *itch and everyone in the audience hated her (as was intended by screenwriter) except for my friend’s mom who was sobbing “the poor girl” just as you are sobbing for those “poor red states”.

Attack Dog

June 22nd, 2012
9:50 pm

It was only Red States that were cited for voter issues long before Obozo was even born. Someone please explain how we haven’t had voter fraud since the government started watching Dixiecrats, but now we need voter I’d? Liberals have been caught with registration fraud that have not resulted an voter fraud, but conservatives have gone to jail for real voter fraud that had nothing to do with ID.

Attack Dog

June 22nd, 2012
9:57 pm

Blue state weren’t caught because their fraud was universal, and not just against minorities. Thus there was a level playing field. As soon as Dixiecrats started gaining strength in Blue states, have we seen the traits of their foreparents.

Auntie Christ

June 23rd, 2012
12:20 am

s td states that: “The DOJ under this regime is nothing more then a political enforcement tool for the Democratic party. What a joke.” Get educated on the issue s td. The agreement concerning these time tables was agreed to by roberto gonzales’ DOJ with karen handel the GA SoS. Are you saying that now the DOJ should not be enforcing laws that the former administration implemented? You and your repub brethren are such sticklers for strict adherence to voting laws, why are you changing your tune in this case? What do you and your repub friends have against counting the votes of the US military personnel?

Then our good repub friend ‘lou’ in the midst of a long rant asks: ” It seems like the DOJ could have notified someone that they believed Georgia’s runoffs violated federal law sometime last year so it could be fixed.” No, actually it seems that you should have nominated and then elected a SoS who knows something about how to do their job, instead of the repub hack who is there now.

Why do you people hate democracy? Why do you hate America? Why do you hate our military and want to deny them the right to have their votes counted?

Markus Justice

June 23rd, 2012
1:31 am

If you listen to so call right wing radio, you would note that Georgia is being sued for complying with laws created by the DOJ. Its the Obama Administration that is trying to fool the people like in Fla where there are known non-citizens registered to vote, have voted in the pass and the Obama Administration will not or has sued to block the purging of these voters from the roles. All smoke and mirrors by this fraud, fake and fool.

Buckhead Boy

June 23rd, 2012
5:41 am

td, wouldn’t the logical conclusion to draw be that red states are being called on voter suppression because they are endeavoring to suppress the vote? Is it your contention that Republican strategists are so naive as not to recognize that demography is trending against them? Is it your belief that it is mere conincidence that their measures work disproportionate disadvantage on classes that tend to vote in opposition to them? There is a lot of simple truth in the old adage that “if it looks like a duck …”, which is perilous to diregard for the comfort of propaganda and disinformation if you wish to be considered thoughtful.

Double Zero Eight

June 23rd, 2012
7:26 am

What is wrong in ensuring that the military vote
is properly counted? Kemp should put politics
aside.

Looks like GA fights the federal government
every chance it gets. Say goodbye to the
feds supporting the deepening of the port
of Savannah, if the president is re-elected.

legionaire

June 23rd, 2012
8:12 am

If the DOJ was all that upset about enforcment of laws on the books, there would be no suits to stop states from enforcing Federal immigration laws within their states. There would be no suits to stop states from trying to clean up voter rolls with photo ID required as is done when applying for Social Security, unemplyment benefits, drivers licenses, etc. There would never have been a Fast & Furious sting that conducted illegal gun running across the Mexican border. This is political payback to a Redstate by the Obama Administration.

Edward Ruffin

June 23rd, 2012
8:45 am

To “yuzebrane”, gerrymandering has been going on for more than decades, and the worst was under democrats. I’m in a congressional district with no congressman (13th). All we have is an obama clone who does not think for himself or his constituents and we got that way because of Roy Barnes and his gang.