Georgia Supreme Court Tosses Election Suit Filed in Bulloch County

A Bulloch County woman who filed a lawsuit over the voting system used in the runoff election last year has lost again, this time in a ruling by the Georgia Supreme Court.

Sarah E. Thompson filed a complaint alleging that the voting system used in the runoff election on December 6, 2022 did not comply with Georgia law.

Thompson, who represented herself, filed the complaint in Bulloch County Superior Court and asked the court to declare the runoff election in each county to be “void” and “uncertifiable by the Elections Superintendent” of the county. The complaint alleged that ballots had been cast on an electronic ballot marking device that failed to meet the statutory requirements for a lawful ballot and that the use of this voting system forced all voters to cast unofficial ballots.

Thompson also wanted the judge to order Bulloch County to hold referenda at some unspecified time on the adoption of voting machines, essentially usurping a duty already fulfilled by the Georgia General Assembly three years ago.

But a Superior Court Judge dismissed her complaint and denied relief because:

  1. the complaints did not name any defendant and
  2. the Plaintiffs in the filings failed to serve any defendant

Thompson subsequently appealed to the Supreme Court of Georgia.

The state’s high court ruled this week that the trial court was correct in dismissing the suit and subsequently affirmed the judgement.

From the ruling:

The complaints did not name any county’s Board of Elections and Registration (collectively “the Boards”) or any other person or entity as defendant, and, accordingly, the clerks of the superior courts did not issue summons. See OCGA § 9-11-4 (a); OCGA § 21-2-524 (f). Nor did the complaints ask the trial courts to order a new runoff election or otherwise seek any relief with respect to the election. Citing various reasons, each trial court either dismissed the complaint or denied relief.

It is axiomatic that in order for a trial court to grant relief against a party, that party must be named in a proper pleading and must have submitted to the court’s jurisdiction voluntarily or been brought within the jurisdiction of the court through compliance with the rules governing service of process.

Appellants have cited no legal authority that would authorize this Court in these circumstances to reverse the trial courts’ refusal to grant the requested extraordinary relief of voiding an election. Accordingly, we conclude that the trial courts did not err in their rulings below.

Judgments affirmed. All the Justices concur.

The decision was made against two other Plaintiffs who also filed similar complaints, Edward Metz and Kevin Muldowney. The trial courts in those complaints, which were outside of Bulloch County and included Cobb and Fulton counties respectively, dismissed the lawsuits as well.

You can read the complete opinion from the Georgia Supreme Court here.

In re: December 6, 2022 General Election Ballot

Appellants Sarah Thompson, Kevin Muldowney, and Edward Metz filed three, virtually identical complaints in their respective counties on December 6, 2022, alleging that the voting system used that day in the runoff election for a United States Senate seat did not comply with Georgia law.

Jessica Szilagyi

Jessica Szilagyi is Publisher of TGV News. She focuses primarily on state and local politics as well as issues in law enforcement and corrections. She has a background in Political Science with a focus in local government and has a Master of Public Administration from the University of Georgia.

Jessica is a "Like It Or Not" contributor for Fox5 in Atlanta and co-creator of of the Peabody Award-nominated podcast 'Prison Town.'

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