A consortium of civil rights groups have sued to re-open registration for this hotly-watched race. Under State interpretation of the current laws, Georgia officials set the cutoff for registration back on March 20th, thirty days ahead of the first round election. But officials insist that 30-day rule applies to the runoff too, which they interpret as an extension of Tuesday’s race. The suit would allow residents who registered after March 20th to participate in the June 20th run-off, so long as they are registered by late May.
In the event the runoff is decided by a few thousand votes, how much of an impact would this change have?
From February to March, as the race was getting into focus, voter registration grew by 10,000. But in the final weeks to register, the net increase slowed to less than a quarter of that- total registration increased by less than 3300 from the start of March (436,636) to the deadline (439,909 registered on election day). The current figures stand at just 5,000 higher than what the district sported in the general election last year- and that was with a massive ground effort by Ossoff supporters. The most engaged residents who really wanted to participate in this race- and from the results we saw last Tuesday, there were nearly 200,000 of them- have already done so. This lawsuit would allow those who “just found out” about the contest, or who moved there, or who now suddenly are interested, to register thirty days before the June primary.
It’s difficult to believe that there are thousands of engaged voters that just didn’t register in time after progressives and Democrats swarmed the district throwing everything they could behind Ossoff to get him to clear 50% in the first round. There are probably a few stones left un-turned, but not in any concentration that would matter. Again, after all of the energy already expended to do so, they’ve inflated the registration numbers from November by a little over a percentage point. Even if it is the intent of some of the groups pushing this to get a second bite at the registration apple, there are only so many people you can find in a district who are both engaged and unregistered.
The crux of the suit-whether a state can say a deadline also covers a run-off -is worth exploring. But for Democrats hoping such action will give them a cushion, or Republicans worried it will sink them, sorry and relax: you’ve got 99.7% of electorate you are going to have in June.