Anyone with a political bone in their body will be watching the two Senate races in Georgia this week. Should Democrats gain control of the upper chamber in Congress, and Joe Biden take the oath of office on January 20, the GOP will be relegated to the political ash heap for at least two years. In the words of Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY): “Now we take Georgia, then we change America.” Thus, voters are right to ask whether anything has changed regarding Georgia’s electoral process to assure a free and fair election.
You Win Some, You Lose Some
Since November 3 there have been a few changes in the Peach State’s election process. Conservatives have heralded Cobb County Superior Court Judge George Kreeger for his decision to make sure that Republican poll watchers will be permitted to oversee the ballot counting process in Georgia. In a joint statement lauding Kreeger’s decision, Republicans Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue said:
“Georgians deserve total confidence in the fairness and accuracy of our state’s elections, and we’re thankful to the thousands of volunteers who will ensure that these runoffs are safe, secure, and that every legal vote is counted.”
This decision clears the way for a massive GOP ground game that has been in the works since November. An estimated 8,000 Republican volunteers have stepped up to serve as poll watchers this time around. The GOP touted this as the “largest and most aggressive ballot security and voter integrity operation in state history.” Indeed, it is double the number of GOP poll watchers who have been keeping their eyes on early voting.
On the flip side, Majority Forward, a political action committee dedicated to electing Democrats to the U.S. Senate, sued Muscogee and Ben Hill counties in federal court. They asked for and were granted a temporary restraining order on December 28. That order prevented county authorities from removing voters from their voter rolls or requiring them to vote with provisional ballots or otherwise treat them differently than any other registered voter, based on the Post Office’s National Change of Address office registry (NCOA). Judge Leslie A. Gardner was the presiding judge in this case. She ruled in part that such removals from the voter rolls would violate the National Voting Rights Act.
The “A” in Judge Gardner’s name stands for Abrams. Her sister is Stacey Abrams, a progressive Democrat activist who lost a bid for governor and refused to concede. Since her loss, Abrams has devoted herself to increasing Democrat voter registration in the state. Judge Gardner, a 2014 Obama appointee to the federal bench, refused to recuse herself from this case when petitioned to do so.
On December 30, Gardner held a hearing and issued a new preliminary injunction. It removed Ben Hill County from the orders and said Muscogee County may not kick people off voter rolls based exclusively on NCOA lists but allows officials to require provisional ballots in those instances where the list shows a problem. The order also forces county officials to call and write to voters whose franchise is affected by the NCOA list to inform them of the opportunity to present evidence that their registration is valid.
Meanwhile, there is continued controversy surrounding Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s action to loosen ballot signature verification laws in the November election. This decision, according to many, calls into question the fairness of the upcoming Senate races. This week, President Trump tweeted that Raffensperger’s agreement to a Georgia Democratic Party lawsuit concerning mail-in ballots was unconstitutional. The president’s tweet read in part:
“Additionally, the Georgia Consent Decree is Unconstitutional & the State 2020 Presidential Election is, therefore, both illegal and invalid, and that would include the two current Senatorial Elections.”
Nevertheless, the president is planning to stump for the two Republicans on the ballot in a Dalton, Georgia rally this evening, January 4, in what the left is calling a “super-spreader” event. Organizers say an estimated 20,000 people are expected to attend. Whether the president believes the Georgia election is on the up and up or not, it’s anticipated Mr. Trump will urge Georgia voters to go to the polls anyway. Perhaps President Trump’s presence signals that the GOP has nothing to lose and everything to gain by voting in a high stakes game of double or nothing.
Read more from Leesa K. Donner.