A federal judge has ordered Georgia officials to reopen voter registration in a suburban Atlanta congressional district ahead of a runoff in a heated special election.
Georgia set the registration deadline for March 20, which was 30 days before the special election in April. Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel, the top two vote-getters, advanced to a June 20 runoff in the typically conservative but now competitive district.
U.S. District Judge Timothy Batten ruled Thursday in favor of advocacy groups who argued that Georgia violated federal law by preventing more new voter registrations before the runoff. He ordered the state to extend the deadline to May 21.
State election officials argued a runoff is a continuation of an initial election under Georgia law and warned last-minute changes would be difficult.
Georgia's Secretary of State was sued by various civil rights groups who argued preventing people from participating in the run-off vote who were not signed up in time for the first round of voting is unconstitutional.
Federal law says voters should be allowed to register as late as 30 days before and election.
Secretary of State Brian Kemp's spokeswoman called the suit "politically motivated." Candice Broce argued a runoff is a continuation of an initial election under Georgia law.
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