By Mark Niesse

The battle over thousands of rejected absentee ballots appears to have come to an end.

Absentee ballots can no longer be thrown out in Georgia because of a signature mismatch or a missing birth year and address, according to a new state law that recently resolved two federal lawsuits.

County election officials discarded nearly 7,000 absentee ballots in the November election, often for minor transgressions such as marking the outside of the absentee ballot envelope incorrectly.

Judges issued orders at the time preventing election officials from discarding absentee and provisional ballots.

Then the Georgia General Assembly passed House Bill 316 in March, a broad elections bill that replaces the state's voting machines and makes many other changes to elections.

That legislation led to the lawsuits' dismissal.

"The parties agree that the above-cited provisions make further litigation of this matter unnecessary," according to a joint stipulation for dismissal last month.

In addition to absentee ballots, the law also covers provisional ballots and election security:

The parties in the lawsuits mutually agreed to their dismissal based on HB 316 and HB392, according to court filings from April and June. The lawsuits were filed last fall against then-Secretary of State Brian Kemp by Common Cause Georgia, the Georgia Muslim Voter Project and Asian Americans Advancing Justice Atlanta.

(c)2019 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (Atlanta, Ga.)