Two things occurred last Thursday that should bolster the chances of Democrat Jon Ossoff in the June 20, 2017 runoff special election for the U.S. House in Georgia's 6th Congressional District. One thing --- one big thing --- remains in place that could help to derail those prospects.
The first helpful item entails the removal of an obstacle to casting a vote at all in the upcoming election, thanks to a ruling by a federal judge yesterday. The court has effectively blocked an effort by Georgia election officials to prevent any otherwise eligible voter in the 6th District who had not been registered prior to March 20, 2017 from casting a vote in the run-off election between Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel.
A Georgia statute treats a run-off election as a "continuation" of a primary election. Thus, Georgia election officials had asserted that, under state law, only those timely registered before the April 18 primary election could vote in the run-off. The GA State Conference of the NAACP and other voting rights advocates filed a lawsuit alleging that the state's restriction on new voter registrations is in violation of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) which mandates that any qualified voter who submits a valid registration form more than 30 days prior to a federal election must be allowed to vote.
U.S. District Court Judge Timothy C. Batten, Sr., a George W. Bush appointee, agreed with the NAACP plaintiffs. On Thursday he issued a Temporary Restraining Order mandating the state "extend the voter-registration deadline for the June 20, 2017 special runoff election to no earlier than May 21." Any "eligible resident" who has "registered to vote" on or before that date is entitled to cast a ballot "that will count in the June 20 special runoff election."
Prior to the ruling, Republican Sec. of State Brian Kemp had contended that only voters registered by March 20th would be eligible to vote in the run-off election, three months later(!), on June 20.
The second issue that could enhance the Democrat's chances for filling the U.S. House vacancy in an otherwise Republican-leaning district --- a vacancy created when Rep. Tom Price became Donald Trump's Sec. of Health and Human Services --- is related to yesterday's narrow passage in the U.S. House of the so-called "American Health Care Act" (AHCA, or what many have referred to as #wealthcare, since the legislation includes, among other things, a massive tax cut for the top 2% at the expense of healthcare coverage and other benefits for the poor and middle class).
A Congressional Budge Office scoring predicted that the original version of the ACHA would result in the loss of health care coverage for 24 million Americans over the next 10 years. Not surprisingly, the Ryan/Trump wealthcare initiative has proved immensely unpopular according to a Quinnipiac poll in March, finding just 17% of Americans support the measure. The Center for American Progress described the amended version of the bill, that was rammed through the House yesterday without an updated CBO score, as far worse than the original bill. It is expected not only to "explode premiums," they find, but also allow states to negate ObamaCare's most popular feature --- the prohibition on health insurance companies discriminating against those with pre-existing conditions.
While both of these factors could serve to aid Ossoff's chances in June, there's no escaping the fact that the runoff will be conducted using the same 100% unverifiable, easily-manipulated, oft-failed Diebold touch-screen voting system that may have cost him an outright win on April 18...