ALBANY — The Democratic Party of Georgia and Dougherty County Board of Elections reached a Consent Agreement Friday afternoon in the Middle District Court of Georgia.
After a confluence of events — first a judicial injunction, then a state holiday, then Hurricane Michael — prevented the county from providing absentee ballots to some county voters, the state Democratic Party sued the county on Thursday, alleging that the late issuance of the ballots had placed an undue burden on the voting rights of absentee voters.
According to the order signed by U.S. District Court Judge Louis Sands, the Dougherty Elections Board agreed that all ballots received by Dougherty County that are postmarked by Nov. 6 and were received by the close of business Friday, if otherwise proper, shall be counted and included in the certified election results.
To allow for Friday’s mail delivery, the county will not certify election results before Tuesday.
“We received 49 ballots in today’s morning mail, and we have yet to check this afternoon’s mail run,” County Elections Supervisor Ginger Nickerson said. “We will handle the incoming ballot just like we do with military absentee ballots.”
Sands had granted the GDP a temporary restraining order late Friday morning, preventing Dougherty County from certifying the results of Tuesday’s general election.
Stacey Abrams, a Democrat, narrowly trailed Republican Brian Kemp in the state’s gubernatorial election.
The GDP had filed a complaint in the Middle District Court Thursday afternoon seeking declaratory and injunctive relief while absentee and provisional ballots remained in question.
The court also found that because external circumstances prevented certain voters from casting absentee ballots, the court’s intervention was necessary to protect those voters’ rights.
“This is a huge victory, but it’s just a small step,” litigating attorney Kurt Kastorf said after Sands signed off on the agreement.