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Crowell, et al., v. Cobb County Board of Elections & Registration, et al.

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The Southern Poverty Law Center and its allies filed an emergency lawsuit to ensure that nearly 1,000 absentee voters in Cobb County, Georgia, have enough time to cast their votes in the 2022 midterm elections.

The lawsuit, filed less than 48 hours before Election Day, seeks to send ballots overnight to each of the 1,000 who still need their absentee ballots. It also seeks to move the absentee ballot deadline from 7 p.m. on Nov. 8, Election Day, to Nov. 14, the same deadline for absentee voters in the military and overseas.

Under state law, election officials must send absentee ballots within three days of receiving an application, but the Cobb County Board of Elections & Registration failed to send requested ballots to all voters who requested them. State data shows that up to 250 of the affected absentee voters have voted in person, which still leaves about 750 voters in need of the absentee ballots they requested. The board claimed that they would send ballots overnight, but hundreds of voters who need an absentee ballot still have not received one.

Through Cobb County’s “last call” absentee ballot return program, voters can submit ballots in person at seven libraries throughout the county the day before the election. They can also submit absentee ballots at Cobb County’s main elections office in Marietta on Election Day. Absentee voters who did not receive their ballots can also vote in person at their designated precinct on Election Day.

Before the state’s sweeping anti-voter law passed after the 2020 election, voters could request an absentee ballot 180 days before an election and the county could mail out the ballots 49 days before an election. The law slashed those numbers by about half, to 78 and 29 days, respectively. These shortened windows have unnecessarily burdened elections officials and absentee voters.