This case involves colliding election and voting rights dynamics and dilemmas. The State of Georgia Defendants have delayed in grappling with the heightened critical cybersecurity issues of our era posed for the State’s dated, vulnerable voting system that provides no independent paper audit trail. The Plaintiffs did not bring their preliminary injunction motions in a sufficient time span to allow for thoughtful, though expedited, remedial relief, despite the important, substantive content of their evidentiary submissions in connection with their preliminary injunction motions. There are no easy answers to the conflicts posed here. In a democracy, citizens want to be assured of the integrity of the voting process, that their ballots are properly counted and not diluted by inaccurate or manipulated counting, and that the privacy of their votes and personal information required for voter registration is maintained. But citizens also depend on the orderly operation of the electoral and voting process. Last- minute, wholesale changes in the voting process operating in over 2,600 precincts, along with scheduled early voting arrangements, could predictably run the voting process and voter participation amuck. Transparency and accountability are, at the very least, essential to addressing the significant issues that underlie this case.
Currently before the Court in this matter are Defendants’ motions to dismiss [Docs. 82, 83, 234] and Plaintiffs’ more recently filed motions for preliminary injunction [Docs. 258, 260, 271]. Given the time sensitivity of Plaintiffs’ motions with respect to the upcoming November 2018 elections, the Court held an extended full-day hearing on Plaintiffs’ motions on September 12, 2018 as well as the threshold jurisdictional issues of standing and Eleventh Amendment immunity raised in Defendants’ motions to dismiss. The Court, out of an abundance of caution, addressed the issues of standing and Eleventh Amendment immunity first and determined whether it could properly exercise jurisdiction over this case before considering Plaintiffs’ request for emergency injunctive relief. After hearing argument on these issues, the Court announced orally its determination that it could properly exercise jurisdiction for purposes of proceeding with the hearing on Plaintiffs’ preliminary injunction motions. The Court further announced that a written order would follow setting forth more specifically the basis for this finding. Accordingly, this Order addresses issues of standing and Eleventh Amendment immunity as well as Plaintiffs’ motions for preliminary injunction.
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