By Alex Lipow
In recent years, Georgia has become a posterchild for election controversies and administrative snafus. Election disputes have ranged from claims of unconstitutional racial gerrymandering to allegations of a conflict of interest in administering the 2018 gubernatorial election. With these issues in the background, a federal court is wrestling with a more fundamental question: do long voting lines in Georgia—which were the longest in the country in 2018 and 29 percent longer in black neighborhoods than in white neighborhoods—violate the U.S. Constitution?
On August 6, 2020, three Georgia voters, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and the Democratic Party of Georgia (the “Plaintiffs”) filed suit against Georgia’s secretary of state, members of nine county boards of election from counties with some of the longest lines in the most recent election, and members of Georgia’s State Election Board (the “Defendants”). In their complaint, the Plaintiffs contend that the long voting lines, which have become longer and longer in each of the most recent elections, stem from the Defendants’ “persistent closure and consolidation of polling locations and failure to provide adequate election equipment, elections officials and volunteers with sufficient training, available technicians to address technical problems that arise, sufficient time to set up polling locations, and emergency paper ballots for backup when equipment breaks down or malfunctions.”