Judge Rules Against Stacy Abrams

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Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacy Abrams faced trouble on Tuesday after a judge ruled against her attempts to take down True the Vote, a conservative organization that sought to challenge the voter eligibility of over 250,000 registered voters. U.S. District Judge Steve Jones issued a 145-page decision in favor of True the Vote, stating that the conservative organization’s actions did not amount to civil rights violations, as Abrams alleged.

Judge Jones wrote that the plaintiffs failed to prove that True the Vote’s actions resulted in direct voter contact or led county boards of elections to pursue an eligibility inquiry. There was also no evidence that the organization caused intimidation, coercion, or threats to voters. True the Vote founder, Catherine Engelbrecht, celebrated the outcome as a “resounding vindication.” She asserted that the ruling was a clear indication that American citizens would not be silenced when it comes to the election process.

“Not only have plaintiffs failed to overcome the fact that their actions did not result in any direct voter contact or alone include or direct county boards of elections to pursue an eligibility inquiry, but there is no evidence that defendants’ actions caused (or attempted to cause) any voter to be intimidated, coerced, or threatened in voting,” Jones wrote.

Catherine Engelbrecht, founder of True the Vote, celebrated the decision saying, “Today’s ruling sends a clear message to those who would attempt to control the course of our nation through lawfare and intimidation. American citizens will not be silenced,” Engelbrecht said.

Meanwhile, Fair Fight, the voter registration organization founded by Abrams, challenged True the Vote’s activity by claiming that it was an illegal attempt to suppress the vote during the elections. Fair Fight’s executive director, Cianti Stewart-Reid, expressed disappointment and frustration with the ruling. She believed that this decision, along with others, showcased the erosion of nationwide voter rights. Stewart-Reid also lamented the fact that the courts cannot seem to deliver the protection and vindication that they seek.

However, in addition to the Fair Fight’s loss, Judge Jones also rejected many of its most absurd claims. Included in these outlandish accusations were that conservatives offered “bounty” money to voters and threatened to place Navy SEALs in front of polling locations. The defeat could serve as a precedent for the rights of partisan organizations to challenge voter eligibility.

Jake Evans, an attorney for True the Vote, claimed that the judge’s decision was monumental. He believes that the ruling will establish eligibility challenges as a proper method to ensure the accuracy of voter rolls. Judge Jones, however, faulted the conservative organization for the poor quality of submitted data. The court heard no testimony, seen no evidence, and noted no significant quality control efforts before issuing the ruling. The judge referred to the data process as, “reckless.” He chided True the Vote for a lack of reliability, and noted that the organization had no proper review or controls in place.

The decision builds upon a previous ruling that Judge Jones made against Fair Fight. He rejected the organization’s 2018 challenge of Georgia’s voting laws. This most recent ruling, however, might serve as a real blow to Abrams and Fair Fight, who were already still reeling from her first gubernatorial failed attempt in 2018. Ultimately, Judge Jones ruled that voter intimidation did not occur and that the organization’s actions fell within its right to oversee voter registration drives. True the Vote’s victory in disproving allegations of voter suppression could have consequences in future elections, providing more opportunities for organizations to review the accuracy of voter registration lists.

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