GOP Georgia Senators Lose Bid to Alter Mail-in Ballot Rules

Bookmark

A federal judge in Georgia rejected a lawsuit by the state’s two Republican senators seeking to change the mail-in ballot signature verification rules for their Jan. 5 runoff election, calling their worries about voter fraud “far too speculative.”

U.S. District Judge Eleanor L. Ross in Atlanta on Thursday granted the state’s motion to dismiss the suit brought by the Georgia Republican Party and the campaigns of Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, whose races will determine control of the U.S. Senate.

Lawyers for Georgia’s embattled Republican elections chief, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, argued at a Thursday hearing that the suit was filed far too late given that the current rules for verifying signatures on mail-in ballots were put in place months ago.

Charlene McGowan, a lawyer for Attorney General Chris Carr, also a Republican, argued that the campaigns failed to provide evidence that any mail-in ballots had been cast fraudulently under the current rules, or even that they might be. She also accused the GOP of cherry-picking data about mail-in ballot rejection rates to falsely suggest Georgia rejected too few of them.

Three-Person Verification

The GOP was seeking a court order that would force state election officials to have three people verify each signature and allow significantly more access to the canvassing process for partisan observers. But the state argued no such demands were made for in-person voting, even though verification of a state ID was open to just as much interpretation and error.

The true motive, the state argued, was to vastly increase the rejection of mail-in ballots.

George Terwilliger, lawyer for the plaintiffs, has sought to differentiate his case from others filed after the Nov. 3 election, which sought to throw out millions of ballots and reverse President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. Those suits, by former Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell, GOP attorney Lin Wood, and Trump booster Rudy Giuliani, all failed.

“I’m not Sidney Powell; I’m not Lin Wood; I’m not Rudy Giuliani,” Terwilliger said at a hearing. “We have nothing to do with that.”

But the narrower relief sought by the Republicans was still too much, the judge ruled, because they hadn’t demonstrated that they suffered harm from the rules, or that harm was likely.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.