Georgia Says GOP’s Runoff Suit Based on ‘Theoretical Fears’

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Georgia’s embattled Republican elections chief asked a judge to throw out a lawsuit by state GOP officials seeking to alter the rules for matching signatures on mail-in ballots for the Jan. 5 runoff election, which will determine control of the U.S. Senate.

The relief sought in the Dec. 10 suit by the Georgia Republican Party would upend a crucial election that is already well underway, with more than 300,000 mail-in ballots having already been received, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Wednesday in a motion to dismiss the suit.

Georgia Says GOP’s Runoff Suit Based on ‘Theoretical Fears’

Raffensperger, who’s been maligned by President Donald Trump and other Republicans for defending Georgia’s elections procedures, said the GOP suit also comes too late -- eight months after the rules were adopted by the state legislature. U.S. Supreme Court precedent also bars courts from hindering elections when they’re underway, he said.

“Any theoretical fear of injury that plaintiffs might have pales in comparison to the potential chaos and disruption that would result from the grant of the requested relief and the potential harm not only to county officials operating under limited resources, but also to voters who run the risk of having their ballots rejected due to last-minute changes in procedures,” Raffensperger said.

Groups backing Republican Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, both of whom face Democratic challengers in the runoffs, are also plaintiffs in the suit. They claim Georgia slacked on matching signatures for mail-in ballots, applying the rules “haphazardly and inconsistently” throughout the state.

But in his filing, Raffensperger said an analysis of the number of absentee ballots rejected for signature issues in 2020 compared to 2018 found the rate “was essentially the same” even though turnout “increased exponentially.”

The GOP groups responded in a filing late Wednesday saying their case is different from earlier failed lawsuits that sought to “disenfranchise millions of voters” with the goal of upending President-elect Joe Biden’s narrow victory in the state

“This case seeks narrow relief that will not discount any validly cast ballot,” the plaintiffs said in the filing. They added that the suit was filed “at the earliest possible time,” after an analysis of voter data from the Nov. 3 contest.

U.S. District Judge Eleanor Ross in Atlanta scheduled a hearing for Thursday, when the plaintiffs will also seek a temporary restraining order against the state.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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