Case marks the longest-running federal voting rights trial in the Eleventh Circuit on record, as Plaintiffs presented testimony from 50 witnesses—and the State presented only six
ATLANTA — Today, the parties delivered closing arguments in the landmark federal lawsuit Fair Fight Action, Inc. v. Raffensperger, drawing trial—which began over two months ago—to a close. Judge Steve C. Jones of the Northern District of Georgia has previously stated the Court will rule on the case ahead of the November General Election.
Fair Fight Action, Inc. v. Raffensperger began trial on April 11, 2022, more than three years after the lawsuit was filed. The case marks the longest-running federal voting rights trial heard in the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit on record.
Over the last two and a half months, Plaintiffs presented testimony from 50 witnesses, including voters and would-be voters, representatives from the co-plaintiff organization and churches, legal experts, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, and other current and former state elections officials. Through the testimony and substantial documentary evidence presented, Plaintiffs demonstrated that Georgia voters are burdened at every state of the voting process as a result of the policies and practices of the Georgia Secretary of State and Georgia State Elections Board.
In her closing remarks, Lead Counsel for the Plaintiffs Allegra Lawrence-Hardy argued that the burdens faced by Georgia voters result from deliberate choices by the Secretary of State and State Elections Board. She described the reality of the landscape Defendants created that makes it harder to register, harder to stay registered, and ultimately, harder to vote. Plaintiffs recalled that there have been moments in our history when the federal courts have been required to step in to protect the rights guaranteed by the Constitution, and argued this case represents one of those moments.
“This suit put real voters at the center of conversation about voting rights in Georgia by amplifying the voices of Georgians across the state who have been burdened by the state’s election practices,” said Allegra Lawrence-Hardy, Lead Counsel for the Plaintiffs. “Through this trial, we are proud to have memorialized firsthand accounts of the experiences of Georgia voters, alongside data and historical context provided by a slate of leading voting rights experts. We have exposed previously unknown tactics implemented by the Secretary of State and State Elections Board which have the predictable effect of disenfranchising eligible voters. We are confident in the case presented, and believe we have built a record that supports action by the federal courts on behalf of Georgia voters.”
During trial, Plaintiffs presented evidence to support their claims that the Secretary of State and State Elections Board have engaged, and continue to engage, in practices that infringe upon various rights guaranteed under federal law. This includes the fundamental right to vote guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments, freedom from racial discrimination in voting in the Fifteenth Amendment, the promise of equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment, and the protection from racially discriminatory voting practices afforded by Section Two of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
The breadth of the constitutional and statutory challenges to the State’s election practices, the overwhelming weight of the evidence presented, and the historic length of the trial, reflect the gravity of the problems Georgians face when trying to become registered to vote, cast a ballot, and have their ballot counted.
“From the beginning, this lawsuit has been an opportunity to achieve real change on behalf of voters and would-be voters from across the state of Georgia who face obstacles trying to exercise their right to vote,” said Fair Fight Action Executive Director Cianti Stewart-Reid. “Georgia, like many Southern states, has a long history of suppressing the right to vote among people of color and marginalized communities. Through this case we have demonstrated that this suppression is not part of some sad and distant past, but rather continues to happen today. Our message to Georgia voters is clear: Fair Fight Action and our allies will not stand by. We will continue to fight to protect Georgians’ freedom to vote on every front.”
The Plaintiffs overcame the Defendants’ efforts to avoid a trial at every turn. Defendants unsuccessfully moved to dismiss the case in its entirety at the outset, they attempted to avoid meaningful discovery, and they even asked the Court to cut the trial short before presenting their own case – a motion the Court declined to rule on.
Fair Fight Action is seeking relief from the federal court on behalf of all Georgians and fighting to hold the Georgia State Election Board and the Secretary of State accountable for an elections system that violates Georgians’ voting rights guaranteed by federal law. The lawsuit seeks remedies to improve the Georgia elections system at each stage of the voting process: registration, casting a ballot, and having that ballot counted.