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Georgia’s 2018 Rematch, in a Courtroom

In her opening remarks, Lawrence-Hardy spoke of John Lewis, the Georgia Democrat and civil rights icon who died in 2020. And she drew comparisons between the current legal battle and the state’s history of suppressing voters. Georgia was one of the states that were put under special federal oversight by the Voting Rights Act when it was signed in 1965 because of the history of discrimination at the polls in those states.

“The methods may be different than in the past, but the state’s creation of barriers to voting in Georgia have the same impact, particularly for people of color and immigrants who meet all eligibility requirements to vote in Georgia’s elections,” Lawrence-Hardy said. She added that when the state first proposed the exact-match identification policy in 2009, Georgia was still under federal oversight and the Justice Department rejected the initial proposal.

The trial, which is expected to last roughly a month, will feature dozens of voters who claim that their right to vote was foiled by the state’s rules and regulations, with anecdotes from both the 2018 and the 2020 elections. Election workers will also testify.

“You’ll hear how these election workers, who come from all political persuasions and demographic roots, operate under extraordinarily trying circumstances,” Belinfante, the lawyer for the secretary of state, said in his opening remarks. “And you’ll hear how at the end of the day they just want to get it right.”

But the trial will not focus on the state’s controversial new voting law that was passed last year and that added numerous new restrictions on voting. The lawsuit was filed before that law was introduced and passed.

Though Raffensperger is on the defense, the trial also presents a political opportunity for the sitting secretary of state, who is seeking re-election. After he rebuffed Donald Trump’s entreaties to “find” enough votes to subvert the election in Georgia, Raffensperger became a key target of Trump, who has endorsed a well-funded challenger in Representative Jody Hice, a Republican who has publicly claimed that Trump won the election in Georgia.

Raffensperger has not backed down from saying Trump legitimately lost the 2020 election in Georgia, a stance that has put him at odds with a segment of the Republican base who will be deciding his fate in the May 24 primary.

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