ATLANTA — UPDATE: Georgia must allow counties to provide early voting on Saturday, Nov. 26, court records show.
Judge Thomas A. Cox, Jr. granted the petition for declaratory and injunctive relief Friday. He also issued an injunction saying Georgia's election code that prohibited that early voting date does not actually prohibit counties from conducting advanced voting for a runoff election.
The ruling added that counties should not face penalties for failing to notify voters seven days in advance that Saturday can now be an early voting date, as the Georgia Code states.
Both sides presented their arguments to Judge Thomas A. Cox Jr. in a roughly 90-minute proceeding.
The judge concluded by saying he would review the filings in the lawsuit, "consider items in the record relevant to the purposes of making a decision" and then "issue an appropriate order at the appropriate time."
Original story below
A hearing is set for Friday in a lawsuit that looks to open up Saturday, Nov. 26 for early voting in the Georgia Senate runoff.
The hearing is set for 11 a.m. at the Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta.
You can watch the live hearing here:
State election officials announced last week that there would be no Saturday early voting that day due to a stipulation in state law. The law bars voting on the second Saturday before an election if a state holiday is held on Thursday and Friday.
In this case, the holidays are Thanksgiving, Thursday Nov. 24, and a designated state holiday for Nov. 25. (The state no longer names that day in its official holiday proclamations, but it historically has been celebrated as Robert E. Lee's birthday.)
Sen. Raphael Warnock and Democratic groups brought the lawsuit, alleging the restriction doesn't apply to runoffs because that portion of the law mentions only primaries and elections. They say runoffs are a separate category under Georgia law.
The lawsuit seeks to allow counties to offer early voting on Nov. 26 if they so choose and to prevent the state from stopping them.
Republican groups, including the Georgia GOP, have joined the lawsuit on the state's side opposing making Nov. 26 available for early voting.
Early voting can't take place Saturday, Nov. 19 under the state's newly-shortened, four-week window to certify the general election results and prepare for the runoff. Meanwhile, several counties have announced they will begin their early voting on Sun. Nov. 27.