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Curling et al. v. Raffensperger et al. (Amicus Brief)

On September 28, 2020, a U.S. District Judge issued an order directing Georgia election officials to provide a “sufficient” supply of emergency paper ballots. The Brennan Center filed an amicus brief to urge the Judge to clarify her order by specifying that a “sufficient” supply of emergency ballots constitutes enough ballots for 40 percent of registered voters.

Last Updated: October 9, 2020
Published: October 2, 2020

In Georgia's June 2020 primary, thousands of voters experienced hours-long lines due to technical failures at polling locations. However, there are several ways to protect voters from being disenfranchised in November. 

On August 21, 2020, the plaintiffs requested a preliminary injunction regarding the use of the voting machines, electronic pollbooks, and voter registration databases in Georgia. The plaintiffs argued that Georgia’s voting systems were dysfunctional, impeded voters’ ability to cast a ballot, and would prevent and deter voters from voting in future elections.

United States District Judge Totenberg issued an order on September 28, 2020, directing the Georgia election officials to provide paper electronic pollbook backups for voter check in at each polling location. These pollbooks must be updated once the absentee in-person early voting period ends. Furthermore, eligible voters who do not appear on the paper pollbook backup and, according to the updated list, did not request absentee ballots, must receive emergency – rather than provisional – paper ballots. Relatedly, the Court’s order directs county election superintendents to have a “sufficient” supply of emergency paper ballots.

Georgia regulations require enough pre-printed ballots for 10 percent of registered voters, which we find to be insufficient. There will likely be technical failures on Election Day, and election officials must equip polling locations with the resources needed to keep lines moving during peak voting hours.

The Brennan Center and Skip Sugarman filed an amicus brief in support of neither party to urge Judge Totenberg to clarify her order by specifying that a “sufficient” supply of emergency ballots constitutes enough pre-printed ballots for 40 percent of registered voters.

There is still time to bolster our election systems to ensure that every voter can cast a ballot in November. Equipping polling locations with the supplies needed to run a safe, secure, and efficient election can protect voters from being disenfranchised. 

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