Third-party groups can help Georgians apply for absentee ballots, federal court rules
ATLANTA — A federal judge has dismissed a voting rights group’s lawsuit against Georgia’s controversial 2021 voting law.
The decision confirms VoteAmerica’s online tool that helps people obtain absentee ballots is legal under the terms of Senate Bill 202, the voting reform law the General Assembly adopted last year.
After a prospective voter fills in certain information via the VoteAmerica online tool, the organization mails a partially filled in absentee-ballot request to the voter. The voter then completes the request and submits it.
VoteAmerica had initially claimed the law would prevent it from continuing to use its tool to help Georgia voters get absentee ballots.
But Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and lawyers for the state confirmed during the course of the legal proceedings that the VoteAmerica tool is valid, leading to the voluntarily dismissal of the lawsuit on Tuesday.
“This is a victory for Georgia voters and for VoteAmerica, even as we keep fighting in the courts for groups still negatively impacted by SB 202,” said Danielle Lang, senior director for voting rights at Campaign Legal Center, which represents VoteAmerica and other plaintiffs in the case.
Raffensperger, one of the defendants in the case, also called the decision a victory.
“Since [VoteAmerica] has filed their lawsuit, Georgia has had a primary election with record midterm turnout that did not see any major issues implementing the new provisions of SB 202,” a statement from Raffensperger’s office said.
“In implementing SB 202, the State Election Board promulgated a rule that clearly explained that online tools that helped a voter fill out their absentee application are permitted, as long as the group offering the tool kept a voter’s personal information safe.”
The case will continue because the two other plaintiffs in the lawsuit — the Voter Participation Center and the Center for Voter Information — claim that SB 202 prevents them from continuing their absentee ballot program via direct mail.
Incumbent Republican Raffensperger is currently running for reelection against Democratic state Rep. Bee Nguyen in November.
This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.