Elections

Federal Judge Leslie Abrams Gardner Blocks Georgia Voter Purge Amid Runoffs

(Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)

Michael Ginsberg General Assignment Reporter
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A federal judge reportedly ordered two Georgia counties on Monday to place over 4,000 purged voters back on state rolls.

The judge, Leslie Abrams Gardner, is the sister of former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. Her order for the United States District Court in Georgia’s Middle District requires that Muscogee County restore 4,033 purged voters, and Ben Hill County restore 152.

Gardner rejected a motion for recusal from the Muscogee County Board of Elections in the order. Muscogee County argued that the judge should recuse given that her sister Abrams “engaged in various highly-publicized efforts to increase voter registration and turnout.”

Abrams’ organization, Fair Fight, filed a similar lawsuit in the United States District Court in Georgia’s Northern District, according to the motion for recusal. Fair Fight was represented by the same attorneys as Majority Forward, the group that sued Muscogee and Ben Hill counties.

Democrats have on multiple occasions alleged that Abrams only lost her 2018 race for governor due to voter fraud and suppression. She lost to then-Secretary of State Brian Kemp by over 50,000 votes, despite record turnout. (RELATED: Stacey Abrams Suggests Republicans Don’t Know How To Win Elections ‘Without’ Voter Suppression)

Both Muscogee and Ben Hill counties acted on information presented by local political figures when removing the voters. Chairman of the Muscogee County Republican Party Ralph “Alton” Russell initiated the removal based off of information from the National Change of Address Database, WTVM reported. Russell was also an at-large delegate at the 2016 Republican National Convention, according to his Facebook page.

City councilman Tommy Roberts of Fitzgerald, Georgia, filed the Ben Hill County request for removal, according to Politico. Roberts also reportedly used National Change of Address information in his filing.

The challenge to the removal was led by Democratic elections lawyer Marc Elias, who was previously general counsel to the presidential campaigns of Democratic former Secretaries of State John Kerry and Hillary Clinton. Elias threatened more federal lawsuits on Twitter.

Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff won Muscogee County by over 17,000 votes on Nov. 3, while incumbent Republicans Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Rep. Doug Collins combined for a 2,300-vote advantage over Democrat Raphael Warnock in Ben Hill County.