A federal judge let parts of Georgia’s sweeping voting law stand on Wednesday, declining to block them from taking effect a week before runoff elections for state legislative seats.
In his order, Judge J. P. Boulee of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia said he was basing his decision on the imminence of the July 13 elections and not the merits of the case.
“The court certainly appreciates the gravity of the First and Fourteenth Amendment harms plaintiffs have alleged,” Judge Boulee wrote, but “concerns in this case with respect to the July 13, 2021 runoff elections, including the risk of disrupting the administration of an ongoing election, outweigh the alleged harm to plaintiffs at this time.”
He continued, “The Court reserves judgment regarding the propriety of relief as to future elections and will issue a separate order on this question at a later date.”
The Georgia secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, celebrated the decision, saying in a statement: “This is just another in the line of frivolous lawsuits against Georgia’s election law based on misinformation and lies. We will continue to meet them and beat them in court.”
The lawsuit was filed by the Coalition for Good Governance, a nonprofit group whose stated mission is to protect election security and transparency. It challenges several provisions in the Georgia law, S.B. 202, including one that shortened the time frame for requesting absentee ballots and others that banned people from photographing ballots or intentionally observing a voter’s choices.
The suit argues that the provisions create an unconstitutional burden for voters and violate the rights of citizens and journalists to share information about elections.
“Of course we are disappointed that the unconstitutional measures in S.B. 202 will control” the July 13 runoffs, “with all the dangers they bring to the integrity and transparency of that election,” Marilyn R. Marks, the coalition’s executive director, said on Wednesday. “We are concerned about the voter confusion that will no doubt occur with these little-known rapid changes to the rules.”
Ms. Marks said she hoped the court would block the provisions for subsequent elections.
The Coalition for Good Governance lawsuit is separate from a Justice Department lawsuit filed last month, which argues that the Georgia law intentionally discriminates against Black voters.