Judge Orders Georgia County to Accept Absentee Ballots With Birthdate Errors, Could Affect Less Than 400 Votes

Stacey Abrams and Brian Kemp (AP Photo/John Bazemore/Getty Images)

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A federal judge ruled Tuesday that a metro Atlanta county must accept absentee ballots that were rejected because of birthdate errors, but she noted her ruling would only apply to a "small portion of the outstanding absentee ballots."

U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May ruled Gwinnett County may not reject "absentee ballots containing an error or omission relating to the absentee voter‘s year of birth" and must "delay certification until such ballots have been counted," according to Fox 5 Atlanta. Narrowing her ruling to those ballots with birthdate errors, she said such rejections violated the Civil Rights Act.

The ruling could affect as few as 323 votes, however, with the judge noting 265 ballots were rejected because voters didn't put in their birth year and another 58 were rejected for voters mistakenly writing they were born in 2018.

"The relief requested applies to only a small portion of the outstanding absentee ballots," May wrote. "Plaintiffs argue that Gwinnett County has rejected at least 265 absentee ballots solely because voters omitted their year of birth and at least 58 absentee ballots because voters erroneously wrote that they were born in 2018. While this Court does not discount the tireless efforts of Gwinnett County elections officials to ensure a fair and accurate election, the Court is not convinced that requiring Gwinnett County to count a discrete number of ballots that it already has in its possession will cause chaos and uncertainty across the State."

The ruling came in response to a lawsuit by civil rights groups and Democratic congressional candidate Carolyn Bourdeaux, who is trailing Rep. Rob Woodall (R., Ga.) in Georgia's 7th Congressional District by around 900 votes. Democrats already ousted Rep. Karen Handel (R., Ga.) in the neighboring 6th district and have flipped the House of Representatives to their control.

The ruling won't cause any significant change in the state of play in the gubernatorial race between Republican Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams. Kemp leads Abrams by about 58,000 votes and has already declared victory in the race, but Abrams has not conceded and sued to delay the state's certification deadline, in addition to calling for provisional ballots that were rejected for minor mistakes to be counted.

A judge already ruled Georgia must review up to 27,000 provisional ballots and provide reasons for why they were rejected. Kemp's campaign has stated Abrams is delusional and needs to concede defeat. She still needs to net more than 20,000 votes against Kemp to get him below the 50-percent threshold and force a runoff.

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