Opinion | Georgia’s Audit of Poll Signatures

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger speaks throughout a presser in Atlanta, Dec. 14.


John Bazemore/Related Press

The 2 Senate runoffs in Georgia are scheduled for Jan. 5, however round 700,000 ballots have already been forged. Enthusiasm is excessive, and no surprise, since what’s at stake is management of the Senate,

Joe Biden’s

legislative agenda, and the nation’s course for 2 years.

The GOP can have huge issues if sizable numbers of


supporters in Georgia resolve they don’t belief the state’s election system sufficient to take part. President Trump has attacked Georgia’s voting course of in his try and contest Joe Biden’s victory. So possibly this might shore up the general public’s religion: Secretary of State

Brad Raffensperger

on Monday launched an audit of current absentee signatures in Cobb County.

“Now that the signature matching has been attacked time and again, with no proof,” Mr. Raffensperger stated, “I really feel we have to take steps to revive confidence in our elections.” That’s a reference to Mr. Trump and his allies, who’ve sought to forged a cloud over the state’s guidelines for verifying absentee signatures.

A Trump lawsuit in state court docket contends that Georgia’s total rejection charge for mail votes in November was 0.34%, a steep drop from 2.9% in 2016. This exhibits, the submitting argues, that signatures weren’t correctly checked. Not essentially: Georgia officers say the rejection charge particularly on account of signature issues was 0.15%, carefully matching 2018. What apparently plummeted was the share of ballots thrown out for different causes, together with lateness.

This 12 months’s growth of the mail franchise included steps to make sure that voters forged their ballots correctly. Georgia permitted poll drop bins for the primary time, and there have been greater than 100 within the Atlanta space alone. Every week earlier than Nov. 3, Mr. Raffensperger urged individuals to suppose twice earlier than placing a vote within the mail. A 2019 regulation simplified absentee ballots, whereas permitting Georgians to “treatment” errors utilizing a course of that didn’t exist in 2016.

Fewer rejections appears to be a broad pattern, together with in locations Mr. Trump gained. Ohio’s Secretary of State has touted an all-time low in absentee votes invalidated, a charge of 0.42%, down from 0.85% 4 years in the past. In South Carolina, 0.99% of mail ballots had been tossed, in contrast with 2.2% in 2016, per The State newspaper. Rejections fell in many areas of Florida, at the same time as Mr. Trump’s margin of victory doubled.

Mr. Trump’s lawsuit features a particular allegation from a employee in Cobb County, Ga., who claims to have processed poll purposes for about 5 days in April and Might. The worker says a supervisor directed that absentee purposes with suspect signatures be permitted regardless: “The supervisor stated that the individuals who course of the ballots when the precise vote is available in would catch the mismatched signatures.”

That’s an issue if true, but it surely hasn’t been proved. State officers say the declare is weak beer, because it’s concerning absentee purposes within the main, with “no proof that any unverified absentee ballots had been counted.” A extra definitive reply needs to be given by the audit, which can re-examine signatures on poll envelopes from each the first and November. Cobb County’s elections director has stated she is assured it’s going to come out clear.

The audit might come on time to reassure skeptical Trump supporters earlier than Jan. 5, because it’s imagined to take two weeks. Mr. Raffensperger can also be working with an unnamed college on “a third-party signature match statewide audit research.” That might present fodder for legislative reforms as soon as state lawmakers reconvene in 2021. Mr. Raffensperger has instructed that mail ballots be verified utilizing state IDs as a substitute of signatures.

No election is flawless, and mass mail voting raises the danger of actual issues. That stated, Mr. Trump’s many wild fraud claims haven’t been borne out, and so they might assist Democrats take each Georgia Senate seats.

Potomac Watch: Republicans shouldn’t take the Jan. 5 runoffs, or their majority within the Senate, as a right. Picture: Jessica McGowan/Getty Pictures

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Appeared within the December 17, 2020, print version.

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