ATLANTA — Update: The Court of Appeals of the State of Georgia has ruled that counties may offer early voting the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
The court denied emergency motions from the State of Georgia, the Georgia Republican Party, the Republican National Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee Monday evening.
The state and Republican groups were seeking to overturn a Fulton County Superior Court ruling last week that allows counties to offer early voting on Nov. 26, despite the fact that it falls after Thanksgiving and a state holiday that once celebrated Confederate general Robert E. Lee.
"The court has worked its will. We believe this is something the General Assembly should consider clarifying to avoid confusion in the future. I hope that Georgia's election workers will be able to enjoy a somewhat restful holiday despite this decision," a spokesperson for the Secretary of State's Office said in a statement.
This is a developing story. 11Alive is working to learn more on the details of the decision, including whether the state can or will appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court.
Original: Attorneys for the State of Georgia are appealing a ruling that allows counties to offer early voting on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, court documents show.
Assistant Attorney General Charlene S. McGowan filed the notice of appeal Sunday with the Court of Appeals of Georgia, and attorneys for the state filed an emergency motion Monday.
Attorneys representing the state argue that the last minute change to the election process could lead to "voter confusion and incentivize voters to stay away from the polls."
"Changing the schedule at this late hour only serves to disrupt the ability of county elections workers to staff polling locations and do the necessary preparations for the election, disadvantaging voters in those counties which have less resources and ability to find staff at the last minute over a holiday weekend," the state's motion reads.
The appeal comes after Fulton County Superior Court Judge Thomas Cox Jr. decided Friday that counties could offer early voting on Nov. 26, despite the fact that it falls after Thanksgiving and a state holiday that once honored Confederate general Robert E. Lee.
The ruling reversed Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger's interpretation of the law regarding early voting before the Dec. 6 runoff between Sen. Raphael Warnock and his Republican challenger Herschel Walker.
The state argued that early voting on Nov. 26 wasn't allowed because of the holidays.
Warnock's campaign, along with the Democratic Party of Georgia and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, filed a lawsuit challenging the secretary of state's guidance. The groups argued that laws barring Saturday voting on or near a holiday applied only to primaries and elections. Under state law, runoffs are defined as a separate type of election.
The Georgia Republican Party, the Republican National Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee later joined the lawsuit on the side of the state of Georgia.
Officials at the Georgia Secretary of State's office initially said voting would be allowed Nov. 26 before backtracking after its lawyers reviewed state law.
Early voting couldn't take place Saturday, Nov. 19 under the state's newly-shortened, four-week window to certify the general election results and prepare for the runoff.