We told you a week or so ago that the Sixth District voting pool on Tuesday wouldn’t be much different from November.
Tuesday's balloting was a special election, quickly called. There was no evidence of a Democratic effort to put more, friendlier voters on the rolls – a traditional strategy in both parties.
But it turns out that there won’t be any kind of voter registration drive in preparation for the June 20 runoff, either. According to little known provision in state law, the deadline for voter registration in that race was in March. And so, my AJC colleague Aaron Gould Sheinin tells us, a federal lawsuit has been filed:
The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law filed the complaint in federal court in Georgia on behalf of five civil rights and voting rights organizations. It claims Georgia law cuts off voter registration for federal run-off elections two months earlier than guaranteed under federal law.
A key example, the committee said, is the coming June runoff for the 6th Congressional District. Anyone who had not registered to vote in March cannot register to participate in the June runoff between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel.
The suit says that Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act requires states to allow anyone to vote in a federal election if they register at least 30 days before that election. Georgia, however, allows people register at least 30 days before an election, but does not allow a person to vote in the runoff if they had not registered in time for the primary.
Which means that, even if Democrat Jon Ossoff wanted to shift his voter registration to the Sixth District from his current address, and deprive Karen Handel of a talking point, he still couldn't vote in the runoff.
Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office dismisssed the suit as a “completely political effort."
“This law has been in place since Cathy Cox was in office and we will fight it in court,” Kemp chief of staff David Dove said.
Here's the thing: When Cox, a Democrat, was secretary of state, runoffs were held three weeks after the first vote. A federal judge's ruling requires Georgia runoffs a full two months after the initial balloting.