A federal judge sided with the state of Georgia in a lawsuit filed by a group associated with Democrat Stacey Abrams challenging the constitutionality of its election practices.
“Although Georgia’s election system is not perfect, the challenged practices violate neither the constitution nor the VRA,” U.S. District Judge Steve Jones, an Obama appointee, wrote, referring to the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He detailed his reasoning in a 288-page order siding against Abrams’ Fair Fight Georgia group in a lawsuit filed four years ago alleging voter suppression and racial discrimination after she narrowly lost to the state’s current Republican Gov. Brian Kemp.
Kemp, who was Georgia Secretary of State when the lawsuit was filed, applauded the ruling as a victory against an attempt by Abrams to weaponize the legal system for political gain.
“Judge Jones’ ruling exposes this legal effort for what it really is: a tool wielded by a politician hoping to wrongfully weaponize the legal system to further her own political goals,” Kemp said in a statement.
“While the Court’s actions are not the preferred outcome, the conduct of this trial and preceding cases and legislative actions represent a hard-won victory for voters who endured long lines, burdensome date of birth requirements and exact match laws that disproportionately impact Black and Brown voters,” Abrams said in a statement.
Abrams’ Fair Fight Action organization filed the lawsuit along with Care in Action, a nonprofit that advocates for domestic workers. Several churches later joined as plaintiffs. It was originally extremely broad and called for a significant overhaul of Georgia’s election system. By the time it got to trial, the scope had narrowed significantly after some allegations were resolved by changes in state law and others were dismissed by the court.
Georgia officials have created a landscape where it’s “harder to register, harder to stay registered and ultimately harder to vote,” Allegra Lawrence-Hardy, an attorney for Fair Fight and the other plaintiffs, said during her closing argument in late June. The barriers to voting aren’t caused by inevitable human errors but instead result from “choices designed to keep certain people from voting,” she said.
“This is a voting rights case that resulted in wins and losses for all parties over the course of the litigation and culminated in what is believed to have been the longest voting rights bench trial in the history of the Northern District of Georgia,” Jones wrote.
In a press release, Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger called the ruling a “win for all Georgia election officials who dedicate their lives to safe, secure and accessible elections.”
“Stolen election and voter suppression claims by Stacey Abrams were nothing but poll-tested rhetoric not supported by facts and evidence,” the statement added.
The ruling comes as a lawsuit filed by the Department of Justice last year alleging discrimination continues to make its way through court. Both the DOJ and Biden White House declined to provide an update on that case last week when contacted by Fox News Digital.
Biden has referred to the Georgia voting system as “Jim Crow in the 21st Century.”
Raffensperger’s office told Fox News Digital that 1.9 million eligible voters participated in the 2022 primary contest compared to 1.2 million in 2018, despite the DOJ’s allegation of voter suppression, and African-American turnout was 22% higher than any other primary election except for the 2020 presidential primary.
Kemp and Abrams are set to square off in a rematch for Georgia governor next month in a race that Fox News polling shows Kemp leads by seven points.
The Associated Press contributed to this report