Attorney Lin Wood on Dec. 18 filed a lawsuit against the Georgia secretary of state, alleging that the administration of the U.S. Senate runoff elections in the Peach State violates state election laws and the U.S. Constitution.
Wood is calling on the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of Georgia to order election officials to conduct voter signature and identity verification in accordance with state law rather than the directives of election officials. The lawsuit also challenges election procedures related to how, when, and where absentee ballots are delivered and opened.
Wood alleges that a signature verification procedure Georgia adopted through a litigation settlement is illegal because it usurps the authority of the state’s legislature, which had enacted a detailed requirement for the process.
Under the state statute, absentee ballots for which signatures don’t match with the ones on file are to be rejected by the election clerks who process them. The rule adopted through the litigation settlement requires clerks who believe a signature is mismatched to find two more election officials to concur with them. If at least one of the two election officials concurs with the clerk, all three official must sign their names on the envelope being rejected.
“The Defendants thus changed the clear statutory procedure for confirming voter identity at the time of voting, so that rather than one poll worker reviewing signatures, a committee of three poll workers is charged with confirming that absentee ballot signatures are defective before rejecting a ballot,” the lawsuit states.
“By designating a committee of three to check mail-in absentee voter identification but having a single poll worker check in-person voter identification, the challenged procedure favors the absentee ballots, treats the absentee voters differently from in-person voters and values absentee votes more than the ballots of in-person voters.”
The lawsuit also challenges a procedure enacted by election officials which called for opening and counting absentee ballots to be opened and counted three weeks before the election. Georgia’s election law calls for the mail-in and absentee ballots to be opened and scanned on Election Day.
“This emergency rule is in direct contravention of the acts of the Georgia Legislature in its plenary power to direct the manner of the runoff election—the Legislature established its purpose for preventing early opening in the statute—to ‘prevent tampering and unauthorized access,’” the lawsuit states.
“The Code and the Rule are inconsistent and mutually exclusive. The Rule must be declared invalid and stricken and/or the Defendant should be in enjoined from employing the Rule.”