News & Politics

GOP Challenges Absentee Ballot Procedures in Advance of Georgia Runoff

AP Photo/Matt Slocum

Republicans have fired a legal salvo against lax absentee ballot procedures in Georgia as the GOP seeks to make sure that all legal votes are counted — and illegal ones are left out.

The party has filed 3 lawsuits in federal court in advance of the January 5 Senate runoff elections, challenging signature verification procedures as well as the use of drop boxes to collect absentee ballots.

The suits have been filed despite hundreds of thousands of votes already cast in early voting and mail-in ballots.

Politico:

The net result of the suits, which are backed by a combination of local, state and national Republican Party organizations, would make successfully voting by mail harder in Georgia, which Republicans say is necessary to protect the security of the elections — and others claim is an attempt to suppress votes for Democratic candidates.

And Georgia isn’t the only state where Republicans will seek changes to absentee ballot laws.

The legal efforts are likely just the start of a yearlong push by state Republicans to tighten voting rules in response to the 2020 election, which prompted unsubstantiated claims of widespread fraud from Trump, his supporters and other GOP leaders who are convinced that the contest wasn’t fair. Republican lawmakers in Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania, among others, have already announced their intention to seek changes to state election laws next year in response to perceived irregularities, and Trump’s opposition to mail voting in 2020 — coupled with the way those late-counted ballots broke against him in some key states — has destroyed the decades-long bipartisan consensus on expanding the practice.

According to Politico, there have been 378,000 absentee ballots already returned while 846,000 ballots were mailed out. That’s slightly fewer than were returned prior to the general election. But Christmas is coming and voting will not be a high priority for most people.

Historically, turnout is about half what it is for the general election in runoffs, but there are worrying signs for Republicans that this time may be different. Enthusiasm among Democrats is sky high while many Republicans mistrust the electoral system and are unsure their vote will be counted. Still, despite Biden’s extremely narrow win in the state, Georgia is still a Republican state with a GOP legislature and most of those elected to high office being Republican.

Despite Donald Trump’s challenges to the integrity of the Georgia vote and the integrity of Georgia political leaders, Republicans are not looking to end the mail-in voting process, but reform it so that the chances of fraud are lessened.

The suit calls Georgia’s absentee ballot signature verification process “unreliable and non-transparent,” and it seeks to effectively toss out a consent decree to which Raffensperger agreed in March in response to a Democratic-led lawsuit. The consent decree mandated that ballots could only be rejected if two out of three election officials consulted determined the signature on a ballot envelope doesn’t match one on record. Election officials also had to contact the voter in question in a timely manner to give them a chance to fix problems with, or “cure,” their ballot.

Democrats are again screaming “voter suppression” as if saying it loud enough makes it so. I guess they reflexively oppose any effort to improve the integrity of elections, even if it’s only commonsense changes.

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