Criticism of poor management and decision-making by Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger continues, coupled with GOP voter fraud lawsuits that have been filed or will be filed. The controversy and lawsuits are partially spurred by changes in state election laws. One change, agreed to by the Republican secretary of state last March, is especially stunning. And it leads to a big question: Why did he agree to a settlement that smuggled in a major change to mail-in voting?
John Daniel Davidson, writing in The Federalist, has researched and written about Raffensperger’s incredible cave-in involving a settlement in federal court with the Georgia Democratic Party, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee which had sued the state over for absentee voting rules.
The settlement introduced “ballot curing” to Georgia law. Ballot curing, as Davidson describes it, is when voters whose mail-in ballots are rejected for some reason— the signature on the ballot doesn’t match the one on file, the ballot is missing certain voter information, etc.— are notified and given a chance to correct or “cure” their absentee ballot. “Under the settlement, state election officials agreed to contact voters whose ballots were rejected within three business days. If an absentee ballot is rejected in the 11 days before Election Day, officials agreed to contact the voter in the next business day,” Davidson writes.
But here’s where it gets worse. Because more than 8,000 absentee ballots were rejected in Georgia’s 2018 general election, this provision in the settlement got the most media play. Yet the most important one is a crucial change to the rules for accepting absentee ballots in the first place. Consider Davidson’s findings:
“Previously, the signature on the absentee ballot had to match the signature on eNet, a computer database that maintains Georgia’s voter registration and absentee ballot information. If the signature on the ballot didn’t match, it was thrown out.
“In a cleverly worded section of the settlement, Georgia election officials agreed to a subtle but profound change. Instead of having to match the signature on file with eNet, the absentee ballot signature only had to match the signature on the absentee ballot application. The key word in the settlement was ‘“any.’ That is, an absentee ballot can only be rejected if it doesn’t match “any” of the signatures on file— either in eNet or the signature on the absentee ballot application.”
Incredibly, Davidson concludes, an absentee ballot can only be rejected if, A) it doesn’t match any other signature, and B) “a majority of the registrars, deputy registrars, or absentee ballot clerks reviewing the signature agree that the signature does not match any of the voter’s signatures on file in eNet or on the absentee ballot application.”
Think about what that change means. If someone fraudulently filed an absentee ballot application, for example, that same person could then sign the absentee ballot itself. And since the two signatures would match, the ballot would be accepted. This is obviously a huge flaw – and one that Raffensperger okayed. And the Georgia Republican Party was kept in the dark about it until much later.
In light of these revelations, no wonder GOP U.S. Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler (now facing runoff elections on January 5) and many others aren’t happy with Raffensperger.