The League of Women Voters of Georgia, NAACP Georgia, and other coalition partners filed a lawsuit challenging SB202, a new law that restricted early voting and ballot drop boxes and criminalized providing water and food to voters waiting in line to vote. The Department of Justice filed a similar suit, which was consolidated with the League’s suit. The law also imposes new voter ID requirements and halves the time voters are allowed to request absentee ballots.
On March 25, 2021, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed SB202 into law. This far-reaching legislation made significant changes to absentee voting, voter ID, and election administration.
SB202 created new voting restrictions—including new identification requirements for absentee voting, limits on the use of absentee drop boxes, invalidating provisional ballots cast before 5pm in the wrong precinct, banning any non-poll worker from giving food or drink — including water — to voters waiting in line, and more. SB 202 also made substantial changes to Georgia's runoff elections, including (1) reducing the runoff period from nine weeks to four weeks; (2) decreasing the early voting period in runoff elections from three weeks to one week, with no mandatory weekend voting; and (3) preventing citizens from registering to vote between a general election and runoff election while remaining eligible to vote in the runoff election.
On March 28, 2021, the League of Women Voters of Georgia, the Georgia State Conference of the NAACP, Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda, GALEO Latino Community Development Fund, Common Cause, and the Lower Muskogee Creek Tribe filed a federal lawsuit challenging the law in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. The League and its co-plaintiffs argued that SB202 violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments by placing a substantial burden on the right to vote and jeopardizing plaintiffs’ right to free speech and association. Additionally, the plaintiffs argued that SB202 violated Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act by discriminating against Black voters and other voters of color.
The Department of Justice filed a similar suit, which was consolidated along with other legal challenges as In re: Georgia Senate Bill 202. Litigation is ongoing.
The League was represented in this matter by the Law Office of Bryan Sells, LLC, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP, Fenwick & West LLP, and the Law Offices of Gerry Weber, LLC.
Governor Brian Kemp signs SB202 into law
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signs into law SB202, Georgia’s omnibus voter suppression bill.
Plaintiffs file first amended complaint
DOJ sues Georgia election officials
The Department of Justice files a suit challenging SB202 as a violation of constitutional rights and the Voting Rights Act. DOJ requested the case be consolidated with the League's lawsuit.
Court denies defendants' motion to dismiss
The Court denies the defendants’ motion to dismiss, declaring that the plaintiffs had standing to challenge the law, and that they had stated sufficient claims under the First, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments as well as Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
Cases consolidated into In Re: Georgia Senate Bill 202
Plaintiffs file motion for preliminary injunction
The plaintiffs move for a preliminary injunction to prevent election officials from enforcing the ban on providing food and water to voters waiting in line within 150 feet of a polling place.
Plaintiffs' motion for preliminary injunction is denied
The court denies the plaintiffs’ motion, finding that the ban on providing food and water is likely unconstitutional, but that because the election will occur in less than three months, it is too late to make changes to election rules.
LWV Georgia files motion for partial preliminary injunction
LWV Georgia and its partners move for a preliminary injunction enjoining SB 202's requirement that voters must provide a correct birthdate on their absentee ballot return envelope. Currently, if the birthdate is incorrect, election officials are required to reject the ballot. The League and its co-plaintiffs argue that the requirement was already found illegal in a previous case, violated the Materiality Provision of the Civil Rights Act and would disenfranchise Georgia voters if upheld.
LWV Georgia and partners move for second partial preliminary injunction
LWV Georgia and its partners file a second motion for a preliminary injunction against SB 202's runoff provisions, asserting they violated the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments of the United States constitution.
Court grants preliminary injunction against birthdate requirement
The court grants a partial preliminary injunction, forbidding county elections officials from rejecting absentee ballots for incorrect or missing birthdates on the return envelope based on the Civil Rights Act's Materiality Provision.
Court grants injunction against line warming ban
The court issues a separate injunction blocking the ban on line warming. Accordingly, the order allows line warming for the 2024 election beyond 150 feet of a polling place.
Court denies preliminary injunction against changes to absentee ballot regulations, provisional ballots, drop boxes, and line warming
The court denies plaintiffs' request for a preliminary injunction enjoining changes to absentee ballot drop boxes, absentee ballot application deadlines, and counting of out-of-precinct provisional ballots, as well as ID requirements for absentee ballot applications and a line warming ban. The ruling states plaintiffs are unlikely to succeed on their claims that the changes violate the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments as well as Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
Court denies preliminary injunction against runoff election changes
The court denies plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction against provisions of S.B. 202 that shorten the period between general and runoff elections and change the early voting period for runoff elections.