A federal judge ruled Friday against the remaining claims in Fair Fight Action’s lawsuit filed in the weeks after Democrat Stacey Abrams narrowly lost to now-Gov. Brian Kemp in Georgia’s 2018 gubernatorial race.
U.S. District Judge Steve Jones, an Obama appointee, found that “although Georgia’s election system is not perfect, the challenged practices violate neither the Constitution nor the VRA (Voting Rights Act),” according to a copy of the 288-page court decision shared by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Fair Fight Action, an affiliate of the Abrams-founded PAC Fair Fight, claimed in its 2018 lawsuit numerous “serious and unconstitutional flaws in Georgia’s election process” related to absentee ballots, voter registration, and voter list management.
The group alleged certain voting practices in the state disenfranchised racial minorities, but many of the claims had already been thrown out over the last four years, including claims related to “long lines, voting machines, inadequate poll worker training, ballot rejections and large-scale voter registration cancellations,” the AJC noted.
One of the claims left hanging in the balance was that the state’s “exact match” voter registration policy disproportionately affected black voters. Jones shot that down, writing, “Here, plaintiffs have not provided direct evidence of a voter who was unable to vote, experienced longer wait times, was confused about voter registration status.”
The lawsuit followed Abrams delivering a notorious non-concession speech after her loss to Kemp in 2018, saying at the time that “the state failed its voters,” “democracy failed Georgia,” and “this is not a speech of concession because concession means to acknowledge an action is right, true or proper.” While Abrams acknowledged in the speech that Kemp would be certified governor, she accused him of suppressing votes to achieve his victory.
Abrams pointed to Jones’s ruling Friday as reason to elect her in her rematch this November against Kemp, stating, “This case demonstrates that the 2022 election will be a referendum on how our state treats its most marginalized voices.”
Fair Fight Action lamented the ruling, stating that while the four-year legal battle resulted in many “significant pro-voter developments,” the group was “nonetheless disappointed by the Court’s decision.”
Kemp said in a statement of the court ruling that Abrams, a well-funded national figure who has been floated as a Democrat presidential contender, has “from day one … used this lawsuit to line her pockets, sow distrust in our democratic institutions, and build her own celebrity.”
“Judge Jones’ ruling exposes this legal effort for what it really is: a tool wielded by a politician hoping to wrongfully weaponize the legal system to further her own political goals,” Kemp added.
Kemp signed into law last year the state’s high-profile Election Integrity Act despite vehement opposition from Abrams, other prominent Democrats, and their corporate allies.
Evoking a line the governor repeated often as the bill made its way through the legislature, Kemp added in his statement Friday, “In Georgia, it is easy to vote and hard to cheat – and I’m going to continue working to keep it that way.”
The case is Fair Fight Aciton v. Brad Raffensperger, No. 1:18-CV-5391-SCJ in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.