On Saturday, President Donald Trump personally called Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, a Republican, and demanded personal intervention in the election outcome. According to The Washington Post, Trump “[urged Kemp] to persuade the state legislature to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the state and asked the governor to order an audit of absentee ballot signatures,” which is a galling intervention in the electoral process on the part of the sitting president of the United States. According to a source for the Post, Trump wanted Kemp to call a special session of the state legislature, where Georgia legislators would appoint members of the electoral college that back the president, regardless of the popular vote outcome in the state.
According to the Post, lawyers for Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, have “determined that current law gives Georgia legislators no role in seating electors,” although Trump doesn’t seem particularly fazed by local legal concerns in his frenzied fight against the election results. Kemp has previously publicly called for an audit of the signatures that are on the envelopes for mail-in ballots in the state, although these signatures can’t be matched to any actual ballots, because frontline workers separated the envelopes and mail-in ballots after the first round of signature verification. Thus, a meaningful re-verification of actual ballots can’t be done. Comprehensive signature verification for every single mail-in ballot in the state already took place.
Kemp rejected Trump’s request to call a special session of the state legislature, and he has no legal power to actually compel an audit of signatures on mail-in ballot envelopes in the state. Raffensperger “has oversight over elections that cannot be overrriden by executive order,” the governor’s spokesperson recently noted. Kemp addressed the president’s complaints in a Saturday afternoon Twitter post, where he said as follows:
‘As I told the President this morning, I’ve publicly called for a signature audit three times (11/20, 11/24, 12/3) to restore confidence in our election process and to ensure that only legal votes are counted in Georgia.’
As I told the President this morning, I’ve publicly called for a signature audit three times (11/20, 11/24, 12/3) to restore confidence in our election process and to ensure that only legal votes are counted in Georgia. #gapol https://t.co/xdXrhf1vI2
— Brian Kemp (@BrianKempGA) December 5, 2020
In his original post, which Kemp was replying to, Trump insisted that he would “easily & quickly win Georgia” if authorities would “permit a simple signature verification,” but on a basic level, signature verification has already taken place in the state. As mentioned, meaningful signature re-checks are impossible. Trump’s antagonism towards Kemp and fellow top Georgia Republicans could have electoral consequences for the GOP, because two critical Senate elections are around the corner in the state – but what if Trump’s supporters don’t trust authorities and the process because of the president’s lies about the electoral process? There is no meaningfully conclusive evidence, at all, for the president’s claims of widespread fraud.