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Judge rejects voter intimidation charges against conservative group in Georgia

A federal judge has ruled in favor of a Texasbased conservative group in a lawsuit over its effort to lodge more than 364,000 challenges to Georgia voters’ eligibility.

U.S. District Judge Steve Jones, the same jurist who upheld state’s new congressional and legislative district maps last week, declared Tuesday that True the Vote’s actions did not constitute illegal voter intimidation as alleged by Fair Fight Action, the voting rights group founded by Democrat Stacey Abrams. True the Vote filed challenges in December 2020 ahead of two runoff elections that vaulted Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock into the U.S. Senate, claiming the affected voters appeared to be ineligible to vote because of changes in residency. Local elections offices rejected most of the challenges.

Jones found that the groups’ actions did not rise to the level of violating the Voting Rights Act.

“This decision is monumental,” said Jake Evans, lead attorney for True the Vote in the case. “It vindicates True the Vote in totality and establishes that eligibility challenges under Section 230 (of the federal law) are a proper method to ensure voter rolls are accurate.”

But other portions of Jones’ ruling criticized the organization’s process for challenging voters. “As the federal court weighed the evidence presented about True the Vote’s tactics in the 2021 runoff elections, it did not hold back its criticisms of the Texas group’s methods,” said Cianti Stewart-Reid, Fair Fight’s executive director. “To the contrary, the 145-page opinion expressly states the court ‘in no way is condoning (True the Vote’s) actions in facilitating a mass number of seemingly frivolous challenges.’ ' A sweeping overhaul of state election law the General Assembly passed in 2021 after the Senate runoffs and after the lawsuit was filed allows individuals to file an unlimited number of voter eligibility challenges.

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