Early voting will be allowed on Saturday in Georgia’s runoff election for Senate after an appeals court rejected an argument that state law forbade it.
In a brief ruling on Monday, the Georgia Court of Appeals declined a request from the state to halt a ruling made by a Fulton County judge on Friday, which found voting on Saturday permissible. It is up to individual counties whether to actually offer early voting that day.
The runoff between Senator Raphael Warnock, a Democrat, and his Republican challenger, Herschel Walker, is on Dec. 6, and Georgia law requires five days of early voting from Monday, Nov. 28, through Friday, Dec. 2. Counties are allowed, but not required, to offer up to three additional days of early voting, and some — including Fulton County, which includes Atlanta and is a Democratic stronghold — planned to offer Saturday, Nov. 26.
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, argued that early voting was not allowed that day under Georgia law, which bars it on the second Saturday before an election if the preceding Thursday or Friday are state holidays. Thursday is Thanksgiving, and Friday is a Georgia holiday that once honored Robert E. Lee, the Confederate general.
Mr. Warnock, the Democratic Party of Georgia and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee sued, arguing that the restriction did not apply to runoffs. The courts agreed.
“This ruling is a victory for every Georgia voter, and we look forward to counties across the state providing voters the opportunity to cast their ballots on Saturday, Nov. 26,” the plaintiffs said in a joint statement from Mr. Warnock’s campaign manager, Quentin Fulks; the executive director of the D.S.C.C., Christie Roberts; and the executive director of the Democratic Party of Georgia, Rebecca DeHart.
Mr. Raffensperger’s office indicated that he would accept the appeals court’s ruling.
“The court has worked its will,” said Mike Hassinger, a spokesman for the secretary of state’s office. “We believe this is something the General Assembly should consider clarifying to avoid confusion in the future. I hope that election workers are able to enjoy a somewhat restful holiday despite this decision.”
Georgia’s 2021 voting law shortened the timeline for runoffs, which the state requires if no candidate receives a majority of the vote in the regular election. It is because of that shortening that the early-voting period coincides with Thanksgiving weekend.
Democrats have already retained their narrow control of the Senate, but the runoff between Mr. Warnock and Mr. Walker will determine whether they gain a seat — giving them 51 to Republicans’ 49 — or whether the chamber remains split 50-50, with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking ties.