The federal appeals court in Atlanta on Wednesday upheld a ruling issued last year that found a portion of Georgia’s ballot access laws violated the U.S. Constitution. The one-sentence ruling, by a unanimous three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, adopted the “well-reasoned opinion” issued last March by U.S. District Judge Richard Story in Atlanta. Story had significantly lowered the number of signatures required for third-party candidates to petition to get on Georgia’s presidential ballot — from tens of thousands to 7,500. The 11th Circuit’s ruling was notable in that it was issued less than a week after it heard arguments on the case – an exceptionally quick turnaround for a ruling by the busy court that oversees cases out of Georgia, Florida and Alabama.
“I think it’s a great decision,” said Laughlin McDonald, director-emeritus of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project. “The state put up no evidence whatsoever as to voter confusion or ballot overcrowding.”
A spokeswoman for Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, in response to the ruling, said, “we respectfully disagree with the decision, and we are currently reviewing our options for appeal.” If the state appealed, it would likely ask the entire 11-member 11th Circuit court to review the decision.