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Case Name Cooper v. Raffensperger VR-GA-0168
Docket / Court 1:20-cv-1312 ( N.D. Ga. )
State/Territory Georgia
Case Type(s) Election/Voting Rights
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Case Summary
COVID-19 Summary: Two third-party nominees for the Georgia State House of Representatives filed this case alleging that, in light of public health risks associated with COVID-19, requiring them to collect over 20,000 signatures to get on the ballot violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments. On ... read more >
COVID-19 Summary: Two third-party nominees for the Georgia State House of Representatives filed this case alleging that, in light of public health risks associated with COVID-19, requiring them to collect over 20,000 signatures to get on the ballot violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments. On July 9, the court ordered the defendants to reduce the relevant signature requirements by 30% for the 2020 general election.


The two plaintiffs in this case, the Green Party and Libertarian Party nominees for seats in the Georgia State House of Representatives, filed this case in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia on March 26, 2020. Their complaint alleged that Georgia state laws requiring extensive collection of signatures to get on the ballot as a third party candidate should be relaxed in light of the COVID-19 public health emergency. Their complaint names one defendant, the Secretary of State for the State of Georgia. This case has been assigned to Judge Eleanor Ross, and the plaintiffs are represented by private counsel.

The requirements to get on the ballot as a third party candidate in Georgia require a nominee to collect signatures from 5% of the registered voters in the district where they are running. For the two plaintiffs in this case, that would require gathering over 20,000 signatures each. Their complaint argued that requiring them to do this before the deadline of August 14, 2020, would be virtually impossible given the circumstances stemming from COVID-19, making the requirements a violation of their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. They are seeking declaratory and equitable relief. Specifically, they have asked the court to prorate the signature requirement to account for days lost due to COVID-19.

The plaintiffs filed a motion for a preliminary injunction on May 8, 2020. On May 29, the defendants responded to the motion, requesting a denial of the preliminary injunction or grant in part with only a 30% reduction of the petition requirements, which they argued was an appropriate balance between the burdens of COVID-19 and the State's interest in requiring a showing of voter support for ballot access.

Following a hearing, on July 9, the court granted in part the plaintiffs' motion for a preliminary injunction, but refused to impose the requested remedy. Instead, the court ordered the defendants to reduce the relevant signature requirements by 30% for the 2020 general election.

The case is ongoing.

Alex Moody - 05/13/2020
Averyn Lee - 07/21/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Freedom of speech/association
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Medical/Mental Health
COVID-19 Mitigation Granted
COVID-19 Mitigation Requested
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Voting
Candidate qualifications
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. ยง 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) State of Georgia
Plaintiff Description Two third-party nominees to the Georgia State House of Representatives
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Source of Relief Litigation
Filed 03/26/2020
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Docket(s)
1:20-cv-1312 (N.D. Ga.)
VR-GA-0168-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/09/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1, 1-1]
VR-GA-0168-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/26/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Motion for a Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 11 (& 11-1 to 11-25)]
VR-GA-0168-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/08/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Defendant's Response in Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion for Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 17 (& 17-1 to 17-4)]
VR-GA-0168-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/29/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Plaintiffs' Reply in Support of their Motion for a Preliminary Injunction [ECF# 22 (& 22-1 to 22-5)]
VR-GA-0168-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/11/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [ECF# 29] (N.D. Ga.)
VR-GA-0168-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/09/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Ross, Eleanor Louise (N.D. Ga.) show/hide docs
VR-GA-0168-0005 | VR-GA-0168-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Sells, Bryan L. (Georgia) show/hide docs
VR-GA-0168-0001 | VR-GA-0168-0002 | VR-GA-0168-0004 | VR-GA-0168-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Carr, Christopher M. (Georgia) show/hide docs
VR-GA-0168-0003
McGowan, Charlene S. (Georgia) show/hide docs
VR-GA-0168-0003 | VR-GA-0168-9000
Webb, Brian K. (Georgia) show/hide docs
VR-GA-0168-0003
Willard, Russell D. (Georgia) show/hide docs
VR-GA-0168-0003

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