U.S. District Judge Leslie Abrams Gardner on Monday evening released a ruling barring two Georgia counties from removing more than 4,000 potentially ineligible voters from their respective rolls ahead of the January 5 runoffs.
The decision would seem to benefit Democratic Senate candidates Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff.
As Politico reported, 4,000 of the challenged registrations were in Muscogee County, which Joe Biden won by a large margin in November. Only 150 contested registrations were from Ben Hill County, which President Donald Trump won handily.
Gardner is the sister of Democratic activist Stacey Abrams, who has acted as a surrogate for Ossoff and Warnock.
Abrams on Monday claimed that “Republicans do not know how to win without voter suppression as one of their tools.”
The judge’s ruling stemmed from a lawsuit brought by Majority Forward, a liberal group linked to Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and represented by National Democratic Party attorney Marc Elias.
In a statement, Elias hailed Gardner’s decision as a “blow to GOP voter suppression” — seemingly echoing Abrams’ language from the same day.
“We continue to monitor how other Georgia counties respond to the suppression scheme,” he added. “Where necessary, we will sue and we will win.”
The suit came after the two counties’ elections boards each voted to remove voter registrations that matched U.S. Postal Service change-of address records, apparently indicating the voters in questions had moved out of the jurisdictions and were thus ineligible to vote in the counties.
Muscogee County’s action came after a local voter, Ralph Russell, lodged a challenge to the registrations in question.
“I believe that each of the individuals named … as a result of registering their name and change of address to a location outside of Muscogee County, removed to another state with the intention of making the new state their residence,” Russell argued. “Thus, each individual has lost their residence in Muscogee County, and consequently, each individual is ineligible to vote in Muscogee County.”
The Muscogee County board had filed a motion requesting Gardner recuse from the case, which appears directly linked to Abrams’ political work. In fact, the PAC of Abrams’ voting organization Fair Fight donated $2.5 million to Majority Forward’s affiliated Senate Majority PAC last month.
This comes as the New Georgia Project, a voter registration group founded by Abrams and once chaired by Warnock, is under investigation for allegedly attempting to register out-of-state voters.
Politico noted Gardner is an appointee of former President Barack Obama.
Sean Ross is the editor-in-chief of The Georgia Memo and Yellowhammer News. You can reach him via email at Sean@GeorgiaMemo.com