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For a second time, a federal judge put a halt to Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s attempt to throw out absentee ballots over mismatched signatures.

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Federal Judge Leigh Martin May on Tuesday rejected Kemp’s request to suspend her initial Oct. 24 temporary order that instructed all local election officials to stop rejecting absentee ballots over the signatures, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Kemp is appealing May’s first ruling and wanted the judge to suspend her decision until a higher court hears the case.

Kemp, the GOP nominee for Georgia governor, is in a tight race against Stacey Abrams, who could become the nation’s first African-American woman governor. He’s been criticized for his multiple attempts to suppress the Black vote for the 2018 election. Former President Jimmy Carter has asked Kemp to recuse him to ensure a fair election.

May’s initial Oct. 24 ruling stems from two lawsuits filed by voting rights organizations after advocates noticed that election officials in Gwinnett County, an Atlanta suburb, were rejecting hundreds of absentee ballots for signature discrepancies. The rejected ballots were disproportionately from minorities.

In siding with the voting rights organizations, May ordered Kemp to instruct all election officials to stop tossing out the ballots over signature issues. She noted that there are many legitimate reasons that signatures on the ballots may not match the signature on government ID cards, including stress, age, or simply rushing to sign your name.

Officials must mark those ballots provisional and give the voter the right to appeal the decision or confirm his or her identity.

The secretary of state’s appeal of May’s order is expected to be heard in the United States Appeals Court’s Eleventh Circuit.


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