Federal Court Issues Weekend Defeat To Trump Allies In Georgia

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On Saturday, voting rights lawyer Marc Elias reported that the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed a challenge from conservative attorney Lin Wood against the presidential election results in Georgia. Wood challenged “the inclusion of absentee ballots for the general election in Georgia,” Elias’s organization explains. Specifically, Wood challenged updates to the procedures for handling mail-in ballots in Georgia, which were implemented well before the 2020 general election actually got underway, making Wood’s lawsuit seem late. The procedure update demanded a review by at least three individuals before setting aside a mail-in ballot over signature mismatch concerns. To set the ballot aside, two out of the three individuals had to agree.

In an original underlying complaint, Wood insisted that the update to signature matching procedures for mail-in ballots in the state should have gone through the Georgia legislature. As he put it, “Allowing a single party to write rules for reviewing signatures is not ‘conducive to the fair…conduct of primaries and elections’ or ‘consistent with law.'” Wood alleged that with the increased level of scrutiny for the signature verification process in place, election workers “would be more likely to miss a bad ballot as they work to complete the process as quickly as possible since the new requirements made the process more difficult,” a Florida CBS affiliate explains.

Shortly after the conservative attorney and Trump ally originally filed his lawsuit, Georgia Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs refuted Wood’s claims that the signature matching process had been compromised in the state. Fuchs said as follows:

‘Signature match is intact and the General Assembly passed legislation to allow voters who failed to include a signature time to add one. Fulton County only had one rejected ballot in 2018 and now they have thousands. We strengthened signature match, and will continue to do so, period.’

President Donald Trump himself has singled out Georgia election practices for scrutiny. On Saturday, Trump insisted on Twitter that he would “easily & quickly win Georgia if Governor [Brian Kemp] or the Secretary of State permit a simple signature verification.” A signature verification process has already taken place for mail-in ballots in the state, and claiming otherwise is simply false. A meaningful signature re-check is physically impossible, because after the initial round of verification, envelopes (with the signatures) and ballots are separated, which helps protect the secrecy of voters’ decisions.