Judge rules True the Vote challenge to Georgia 2020 voter eligibility was not voter intimidation

by WorldTribune Staff, January 3, 2024

A federal judge on Tuesday ruled that the voter integrity organization True the Vote’s challenges to Georgia voters’ eligibility in the 2020 election didn’t amount to voter intimidation.

U.S. District Judge Steve C. Jones, in a 145-page ruling that was issued a little less than two months after the end of a civil trial, found that the defendants didn’t violate the Voting Rights Act.

True the Vote founder Catherine Engelbrecht

“Today’s ruling sends a clear message to those who would attempt to control the course of our nation through lawfare and intimidation. American citizens will not be silenced,” True the Vote founder and president Catherine Engelbrecht said.

In December of 2020, True the Vote assisted Georgia citizens in filing elector challenges based on data showing over 364,000 voters appeared to be ineligible to vote due to change in residency.

Georgia’s election laws allow a local voter to formally challenge another person’s eligibility if they suspect the person no longer lives in that county. State lawmakers later clarified through the 2021 election integrity law that there is no limit to the number of voter eligibility challenges allowed in Georgia.

Fair Fight Inc., a group formed by failed Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, sued True the Vote on behalf of several plaintiffs, alleging voter intimidation. The two groups battled it out for seven days, ending in early November 2023 in a nonjury trial in Jones’s courtroom in Gainesville, Georgia. Legal teams led by Marc Elias, and the Biden Department of Justice also backed the lawsuit.

Aside from Engelbrecht, the defendants included two data analysts, Mark Davis and Derek Somerville, mailing list printer Mark Williams, and two others, Ron Johnson and James Cooper.

“Having heard the evidence presented and the arguments made by the Parties, the Court maintains its prior concerns about the manner Defendants utilized (Georgia law) to challenge individual voters. The Court, however, ultimately concludes that, as a legal matter, Plaintiffs have not carried their burden to show a violation of Section 11(b) (of the Voting Rights Act.) Accordingly, the Court enters judgment in favor (of) Defendants,” Judge Jones wrote.

“There is no evidence that Defendants attempted to make any of the voters in this case feel timid or fearful, or that they experienced any actual reasonable intimidation,” the judge wrote in his opinion.

True the Vote lead attorney Jake Evans stated: “After almost three years of litigation and a two-week federal trial with plaintiff calling 12 witnesses, Judge Steven Jones awarded a complete defense verdict for all defendants. This decision is monumental. It vindicates True the Vote in totality and establishes that eligibility challenges under Section 230 are a proper method to ensure voter rolls are accurate. I am grateful to help achieve this great victory.”

Attorney Lin Wood wrote in a Telegram post: “I am not a ‘fan’ of True the Vote or in any way involved with that organization, but I am a huge fan of the rule of law. I am definitely a huge fan of this rule of law affirmed by Federal District Judge Steven Jones, ‘that citizens have the right to lawfully petition their government in support of election integrity without fear of persecution or prosecution.’ Could someone inform the State B.A.R of Georgia of that rule of law??? And a few other B.A.R. associations and judges around the country??? Just sayin’.”

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