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Georgia Judge Dismisses Republican-led Lawsuit Claiming State, Counties Mishandled Absentee Ballots

— December 18, 2020

The lawsuit wanted to rework absentee voting protocol for the state’s senate run-off race, even though voting has already begun.

A Georgia judge dismissed a federal lawsuit accusing the Richmond County Board of Elections and the State Election Board of improperly handling absentee ballots.

USA Today reports that the suit, filed by the 12th Congressional District Republican Committee and three individual voters, alleged that local and state election committees did not properly inspect or match signatures on absentee ballots with those contained within voter registration records. They further claimed that Georgia’s use of ballot drop-boxes facilitated ballot harvesting, a practice wherein individuals submit ballots on behalf of often-unsuspecting third parties.

But the lawsuit did not detail or provide evidence for the accusations laid out within.

Similar to other Republican-led lawsuits challenging the validity of the 2020 presidential election results, this complaint was discarded almost as quickly as the court received it.

In this case, however, the lawsuit used the presidential election as an example of wrongdoing rather than a litigatory target—the plaintiffs had hoped that, by demonstrating the fallibility of the state’s absentee voting protocol, they could ban mail-in ballots and drop-boxes ahead of the run-off election for Georgia’s two senate seats.

Instead of the current system, the 12th Congressional District Republican Committee demanded that all remotely-submitted ballots have the affixed signatures checked by three election workers. It also wanted the entire state to implement such procedures mere days before counties were expected to begin unsealing and counting the first absentee votes.

Scales of Justice. Image via Flickr/user:mikecogh. (CCA-BY-2.0).

In his decision, August-based Chief District Judge J. Randal Hall sided with the defendants, saying the Republican litigators failed to establish standing. More specifically, Randall asserted that the plaintiffs were unable to show that they—or anyone else—were harmed by the election boards’ purported negligence.

“The court finds that those claims are simply based on speculation, highly speculative issues,” Hall said.

Hall, using a sports metaphor, further said the lawsuit was filed at an inappropriate time, as advance voting for the run-off election had already started.

“We are not even on the eve of the election,” Hall noted. “We are, as it relates to this particular election, closing in on halftime.”

Other judges in other districts have made similar observations, with one Wisconsin Supreme Court justice chastising Republican plaintiffs for objecting to election procedures only after Trump lost the vote.

As The Hill notes, Georgia’s run-off election is critical to the power of balance in Washington, D.C.—it will determine which party, Democrats or Republicans, control the Senate.

Since Democrats hold a firm majority in the House, the Senate majority will play an undoubtedly critical role in allowing President-elect Joe Biden to pursue his policy objectives post-inauguration.


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