Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s (R) bad day is about to get even worse. Early on Monday morning, news broke that a Dominion voting machine server crash delayed the third Georgia recount. Just after noon, the Donald Trump campaign sent its fifth request for a signature audit involving absentee ballots.
“Until the signatures are matched, the vote count in Georgia is a complete fraud,” former New York City mayor and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani declared in a statement. “There is no way of knowing which ballots are honest and which ballots are fraudulent.”
The Trump campaign claimed that between 38,250 and 45,626 absentee ballots were illegal due to signature-matching failures, numbers that far exceed Biden’s 12,670 margin of victory in the state.
Addressing Raffensperger, Trump attorney Ray S. Smith III said, “It is not possible for you to accurately certify the results in the presidential race from the November 3, 2020, election until and unless there is a thorough audit of the signatures, which we have now requested four times in writing prior to this request. You cannot in good faith conclude the ongoing statutory recount until you have instituted a signature matching audit.”
Late Sunday evening, Dominion Voting Systems machines crashed in Fulton County as Georgia continued its third recount of the presidential election results. Roughly 88 percent of the county’s results had been counted. Raffensperger’s office later explained that the crash resulted from human error.
Last week, Michael Steel, a spokesman for Dominion, denied claims that votes cast through the company’s systems were at risk of being altered.
“Look, when a voter votes on a Dominion machine, they fill out a ballot on a touch screen. They are given a printed copy which they then give to a local election official for safekeeping. If any electronic interference had taken place, the tally reported electronically would not match the printed ballots. and in every case where we’ve looked at — in Georgia, all across the country — the printed ballot, the gold standard in election security, has matched the electronic tally,” he argued.
When it comes to signature-matching, election officials have to check the signatures on the secrecy envelopes before counting absentee ballots in those envelopes. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, even if election officials did illegally count absentee ballots, it may be impossible to fix the problem, since ballots are not kept with secrecy envelopes after officials remove and tally them.
Election officials rejected 2,011 absentee ballots in the Georgia general election, according to Raffensperger’s office. Voters returned a total of 1.32 million absentee ballots, so the rejection rate is 0.15 percent, the same as in the 2018 election. That year, Georgians cast only 284,000 absentee ballots, 454 of which were rejected for signature mismatches.
Allegations of voting tabulation errors have plagued Georgia’s election system for the weeks after Nov. 3. A previous recount found thousands of previously-uncounted ballots. Recently, the five-member Georgia State Election Board agreed to extend the use of 24/7 monitored drop boxes for the runoff elections on January 5.
In a USA Today op-ed last week, Raffensperger claimed that “Georgia had a wildly successful and smooth election.” He lamented, “My family voted for Trump. He threw us under the bus anyway.”
On Monday, he argued that Trump had been misled by “misinformation.”
“There are those who are exploiting the emotions of many Trump supporters with fantastic claims, half-truths, misinformation—and frankly, they are misleading the president as well, apparently,” Raffensperger said.
NEW: Georgia elections chief Brad Raffensperger: "There are those who are exploiting the emotions of many Trump supporters with fantastic claims, half-truths, misinformation—and frankly, they are misleading the president as well, apparently." https://t.co/BnWEl1Aq4C pic.twitter.com/OSL3Alcqen
— Evan McMurry (@evanmcmurry) November 30, 2020
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.