True the Vote Wins Federal Election Lawsuit in Georgia
True the Vote Wins Federal Election Lawsuit in Georgia

By Dan M. Berger

The conservative vote-monitoring organization True the Vote’s challenges to Georgia voters’ eligibility didn’t amount to voter intimidation in the 2020 election, a federal judge ruled on Jan. 2.

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.

Texas-based True the Vote, its founder Catherine Engelbrecht, and several others had raised questions about whether 364,000 Georgia voters were improperly registered because their voter registrations conflicted with their mailing addresses.

Georgia law requires that voter challenges be made by other voters living in the same county. As two Georgia runoff elections, which were believed could determine control of the U.S. Senate, approached on Jan. 5, 2021, the group narrowed its challenge list to about 39,000, eliminating those with a legitimate reason to live elsewhere, such as college students and active-duty military. They then found volunteers to make challenges in about 40 of Georgia’s 159 counties.

The runoff elections contributed to the charged atmosphere leading up to the Electoral College vote in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021, when thousands of President Donald Trump supporters marched in protest. The march turned into a breach of the U.S. Capitol, which congressional Democrats have since sought to characterize as an “insurrection.”

Fair Fight Inc., a group formed by former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, sued on behalf of several plaintiffs. 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.

Aside from Ms. 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.

Judge Jones expressed some reservations in his decision.

“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.

“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’s advertising, podcasts, and press releases about the challenges, he wrote, weren’t intimidating in the way that direct calls to their telephone numbers would be.

Cameron Powell, one of the defense attorneys, told The Epoch Times in an email that he was on vacation and hadn’t had a chance to read the decision. He said earlier, though, that whatever the verdict, he thought an appeal was likely.

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