Georgia ballot signature

Georgia State Secretary Brad Raffensperger speaks in a press on December 14 in Atlanta.


John Bazemore / Associated Press

The two Senate elections in Georgia are scheduled for January 5, but some 700,000 ballots have already been cast. Enthusiasm is great, and no wonder, as the stakes are Senate scrutiny, Joe Biden’s legislative agenda, and two-year governance of the nation.

The GOP will have big problems if a significant number of Georgian Trump supporters decide they do not trust the state’s electoral system enough to participate. President Trump challenged Georgia’s voting process when he tried to question Joe Biden’s victory. So that might reinforce public belief: Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Monday launched an inspection against recently missing signatures in Cobb County.

“Now that signature-matching has been challenged over and over again, without evidence,” Mr Raffensperger said, “I feel we need to take steps to restore confidence in the election.” This is a reference to Mr. Trump and his allies who tried to cloud the state rules for verifying the signatures of absentees.

Trump’s lawsuit in the state court said Georgia’s overall rejection rate for postal votes was 0.34% in November, down sharply from 2.9% in 2016. This, according to the submission, shows that the signatures were not properly verified. Not necessarily: According to Georgian officials, the rejection rate was 0.15%, specifically due to signature problems, which closely matched 2018. There are indications that the proportion of votes cast for other reasons, including delays, has plummeted.

This year’s expansion of the postal franchise has taken steps to ensure voters cast their votes properly. Georgia first authorized the urns and there were more than 100 in the Atlanta area alone. One week before November 3, Mr. Raffensperger made people think twice before voting in the letter. The 2019 law simplified the voting of absentees while allowing Georgians to “remedy” mistakes through a process that did not exist in 2016.

The number of rejections seems to be a widespread trend, including Mr. Trump won. The Ohio State Secretary overturned the all-time low for missing votes, a rate of 0.42%, down from 0.85% four years ago. In South Carolina, The State tossed 0.99% of letters per newspaper, up from 2.2% in 2016. Rejection has declined in many areas of Florida, even as Mr. Trump’s margin of victory has doubled.

Mr Trump’s lawsuit contains a specific allegation from a Cobb County worker in Gaob who claims to have been processing ballots for about five days in April and May. According to the employee, the supervisor instructed that missing applications with suspicious signatures would be approved regardless: “The supervisor said that people who process ballots when the actual vote is received will receive incorrect signatures.”

This is true if true, but it has not been proven. State officials say the allegation is a weak beer as it relates to absentees applications in the pre-election, “there is no evidence that the missing ballot papers were checked”. You need to give a stronger answer to the audit, which will re-examine the signatures on the ballot envelopes in the primary and in November. Cobb County Election Director said he is confident he will be clean.

The inspection could arrive in time to reassure skeptical Trump supporters before Jan. 5, as it is said to take two weeks. Mr Raffensperger is also collaborating with an unnamed university on a “national audit study of a third-party signature reconciliation”. This could feed into legislative reforms as state lawmakers meet again in 2021. Mr Raffensperger suggested that postal ballots be verified with state IDs instead of signatures.

No election is flawless, and mass mailing raises the risk of real problems. This means that Mr Trump’s many wild fraud claims have not been substantiated and could help Democrats occupy Georgian Senate seats.

Potomac Watch: Republicans should not take the January 5 course or their Senate majority for granted. Image: Jessica McGowan / Getty Images

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Published in print on December 17, 2020.