One has to wonder if Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is thinking at all. Under his leadership, the state rammed through an election technology system change violating every known rule of system implementation project management. It deployed this completely new system for one of the most contested national elections in our nation’s history. Then the state became an international embarrassment when the whole process fell apart on election night.
Now, the eyes of the world are on Georgia because two runoffs will determine the majority in the Senate. So, what do Raffensperger and the rest of the Georgia State Election Board do? You guessed it. Outside of the legislative process, they are changing the rules again, according to Fox News:
The five-member Georgia State Election Board, chaired by Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, voted on Monday to extend the use of the 24/7 monitored drop boxes for use through the runoffs. Use of the boxes was originally set to expire in late December.
The move comes amid a surge in absentee ballot requests in the runoff elections. Officials said that as of Monday morning 762,000 requests for absentee ballots had been submitted.
A second rule adopted allows counties to continue to begin processing absentee ballots two weeks before Election Day – but now also mandates them to start processing them no later than a week and one day ahead of the election. But as per Georgia law, none of the ballots would be tabulated and counted until the polls close on Jan. 5.
Voters in the state are already skeptical of the results of the November elections. Overwhelming numbers of mail-in ballots, late updates to the elections system, and a complete disaster in Fulton County were bad enough. Now, a lawsuit is alleging other irregularities, such as the lack of audit logs, signature verifications, and prohibiting observers.
One request for an injunction to prevent resetting the Dominion voting machines, brought by Attorney Lin Wood against Governor Brian Kemp and the full State Elections Board, was denied. District Court Judge Timothy Batten held that the machines actually belonged to the counties, and an order to impound the machines could not be issued to the state-level officials.
Yet now the State Elections Board has decided to continue with election procedures that directly violate Georgia election law. Georgians have elected their representatives and expect state-level officials to enforce the laws those representatives pass. There is simply no reason to maintain these illegal procedures that are already being questioned in court.
To begin with, the state of Georgia reopened on April 24. The counties have conducted every election with in-person and early voting. There have been no COVID-19 outbreaks connected to in-person voting and no reasons to expect there will be now, especially when early voting for the January 5 runoffs begins on December 14. That is four full weeks for people to figure out how to get to the polls safely.
Georgians were not provided mail-in ballots unless they made a proper request for an absentee ballot. Thanks to an all-around pain in the rear and failed gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, over 750,000 people have requested absentee ballots. Her advocacy groups have been seeking to make Georgia’s elections less secure for years. All while, Abrams has been running around the country saying she really won in 2016.
Her activism is not an excuse to essentially ruin two elections by beginning counts early. This just invites fraud. Georgia is one state that has a robust process for updating its voter rolls and requires voter ID. If this is the way they plan to proceed, they may as well have neither. Unbelievably, the Board chose not to take up residency issues, despite public movements encouraging people to relocate temporarily to Georgia to vote in the election. They will simply send a bulletin to the counties.
This entire situation is a hot mess. Raffensperger had an opportunity to increase confidence in free and fair elections in the state as two elections with national implications are looming. Instead, he has extended the use of insecure and illegal procedures—decisions that could well break the republic.
Georgia should conduct the January run-offs in compliance with the very letter of Georgia’s election laws. If Abrams and her partisan organizations want changes, they need to seek them legislatively, not by fiat. At this rate, she might as well be the governor.