Georgia House Candidate Seeks to Join Lawsuit Over Rejected Ballots

(Bloomberg) -- A Georgia Democrat behind by 901 votes in a race for Congress is seeking to join a federal lawsuit over the state’s rejection of ballots due to alleged technical errors, such as missing dates of birth or addresses.

Carolyn Bourdeaux, who seeks to unseat GOP incumbent Rob Woodall, asked a judge on Nov. 11 for permission to join the suit, filed in October by a voting-rights group. The race is one of 10 that are still undecided in the U.S. House, where Democrats aim to boost their lead after gaining control. Woodall’s lead is out of almost 280,000 votes cast.

The plaintiffs, including the Georgia Coalition for the People’s Agenda Inc., seek a court order that Gwinnett County tally all absentee mail-in ballots that were rejected for missing information they say isn’t necessary for verifying the voter’s identity or eligibility. The group says the ballots were rejected over common discrepancies that were unintentional.

“Contrary to federal and state law, Gwinnett County election officials are rejecting absentee ballots which were cast by registered Georgia voters about which there is no question as to their identity or qualifications to vote based on immaterial omissions or errors on the absentee ballot oath,” the filing says.

Candice Broce, a spokeswoman for Georgia Secretary of State Robyn Crittenden, didn’t immediately return a call seeking comment.

Crittenden succeeded Brian Kemp, who ran for governor while in charge of the voting. His Democratic opponent, Stacey Abrams, has sought to make the state count more provisional ballots in the race, which is also up in the air.

The plaintiffs were denied a preliminary court order before the election. U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May in Atlanta ruled Nov. 2 that changing the procedure for counting such ballots just a few days before Election Day would result in a “massive scrambling” by poll workers and “place an impossible burden on the already overtaxed elections officials.”

Woodall, a former congressional staffer, was elected to the House in 2010 as Republicans retook control of Congress under President Barack Obama. Bourdeaux was an aide to Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon.

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