Georgia House Republicans Call for Mail-In Ballot Process Review

Georgia House Republicans Call for Mail-In Ballot Process Review
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger holds a press conference on the status of ballot counting in Atlanta, Georgia, Nov. 6, 2020. (Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)
Jack Phillips

Georgia's Republican House Majority Leader Jon Burns and others are calling on the secretary of state's office to review the absentee ballot process ahead of the Jan. 5 runoff for two Senate seats.

Burns submitted a letter (pdf) signed by over 100 state House members to encourage Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger to ensure that Georgia voters "have confidence" in the state's election process ahead of the runoff, after conflicting statements issued by Raffensberger's office and Fulton County officials since the Nov. 3 election.

Burns and the other GOP lawmakers did not make mention of disputes over the Nov. 3 presidential election. Last week, the Georgia Legislature saw a surveillance video presented by President Donald Trump's legal team that shows containers being wheeled out from underneath a table on Election Night, while the team said that poll observers and other election workers were told to go home for the night. They said that the video, along with statements provided by election officials, shows that vote counters stayed behind until around 1:30 a.m. on Nov. 4.

Instead, the Georgia House lawmakers flagged the state's absentee and mail-in "ballot signature review process."

"To increase confidence in our election process," Burns and the others wrote, "it is imperative that signatures be appropriately scrutinized and that the signature review process is above reproach." He proposed that election officials promote a rule that requires "the signature review process on absentee ballot applications and absentee ballots include an independent observer from each political party represented in the races on the reviewed ballots."

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, who has come under fire from Trump and other Republicans over not taking executive action in light of the fraud allegations, posted the Georgia House Republicans' letter on Twitter and thanked them "for proposing necessary reforms that will help restore confidence in our elections."

The Republicans, in the letter, said the secretary of state or the State Election Board should join forces with other state agencies in support of local election officials.

"Multiple news outlets reported significant failures in counties across our state before, during, and after Election Day," he said. "These counties were rural, suburban, and metro-area and represented all demographics and areas of our state. We hope these suggestions can help Georgians rest assured that each and every legal vote is counted here in Georgia."

Following the explosive Georgia Legislature hearing, Trump lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Jenna Ellis called on the GOP members—who have a majority in both the Senate and House—to use their constitutional power to select electors. They argued that the presidential election results in Georgia were invalid in light of the Nov. 3 video and sworn affidavits alleging fraud.

Georgia election official Gabriel Sterling later issued a statement on the video, saying that the it shows nothing nefarious and described the process as not out of the ordinary. However, he was not able to explain why there were conflicting statements made by Fulton County election officials—beginning on the night of Nov. 3—about poll observers leaving the vote tabulation area on Election Night or why the containers were pulled from under the table after the observers allegedly left the area.

Kemp said state election officials like Raffensberger should explain what happened, describing the footage as "concerning." Raffensberger later called on the Georgia Bureau of Investigations to assist in probing the allegations.
Related Topics