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NOT REAL NEWS: Abrams’ sister didn’t rule in election case

FILE - In this Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018 file photo, Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams speaks to supporters during an election night watch party in Atlanta. On Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018, The Associated Press has found that stories circulating on the internet that U.S. District Judge Leslie Abrams, sister of the gubernatorial hopeful, presided over a complaint related to the too-close-to-call governor’s race, are untrue. (AP Photo/John Amis)

U.S. District Judge Leslie Abrams, sister of Georgia Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Stacey Abrams, did not preside over a complaint related to the too-close-to-call governor’s race, as reports circulating online suggest.

The state Democratic Party filed a lawsuit Thursday seeking an order to force Dougherty County election officials to accept absentee ballots postmarked by Election Day. The party said the county had failed to get ballots to absentee voters on time due to a “confluence of extraordinary circumstances,” including Hurricane Michael. Otherwise, only absentee ballots from overseas residents or members of the military received after Election Day would be counted.

The state party’s lawsuit against Dougherty County was filed in the Middle District of Georgia’s federal court, where Judge Leslie Abrams — the sister of Stacey Abrams — was confirmed to the bench in 2014. Most federal courts assign cases to judges randomly, including the Middle District of Georgia.

Judge Abrams was randomly assigned to the case Thursday, but it was reassigned to U.S. District Judge W. Louis Sands on the same day, and before any action was taken on the case, court records show. The shift was in keeping with the court’s procedure when there is a conflict of interest, according to David W. Bunt, the clerk of court for the Middle District of Georgia.

In a ruling Friday, Sands ordered that Dougherty County election officials accept absentee ballots that were postmarked by Election Day and received by Friday. His signature is listed on the court order.

Several online sites, blogs and social media users wrongly claimed Judge Leslie Abrams presided over the case.

The Associated Press has not declared a winner in the race between Abrams and her GOP opponent Brian Kemp. A federal judge has ordered the state to wait until Friday to certify the results of the election to ensure all provisional ballots are properly counted.

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This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

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Find all AP Fact Checks here: https://www.apnews.com/tag/APFactCheck

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Follow @APFactCheck on Twitter: https://twitter.com/APFactCheck

Copyright © 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.



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