Georgia Republicans on Friday urged an appeals court to immediately order state officials to enforce consistent signature matching for mail-in ballots as voting occurs for the Senate runoff elections.
In a motion filed with U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, the Republicans said they are seeking to remedy Georgia’s “unconstitutional, arbitrary, and inconsistent policies and enforcement of the signature matching process for absentee ballots, before those ballots are processed.”
The Georgia Republican Party, the appellants, asked the appeals court to order all absentee ballots remain unopened pending the appeal.
That would ensure mail-in ballots are not separated from mailing envelopes, which have signature information, and are segregated and safely stored until the appeal is reviewed.
The relief sought is similar to that granted by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito last month in a case Republicans filed in Pennsylvania against election officials, the appellants noted.
Without an immediate grant of the request, Republicans said, “the integrity and reliability of the process for determining validly counted ballots in this critical runoff election will be jeopardized.”
Sens. Kelly Loeffler (R-Ga.) and David Perdue (R-Ga.), and the National Republican Senatorial Committee joined the state GOP in filing the case earlier this month against Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, and members of the State Election Board.
Loeffler and Perdue are facing reelection battles after failing to receive a majority of the votes in their respective races in the general election.
Election officials can start opening absentee ballots cast for the Senate races on Dec. 21, even though it doesn’t officially take place until Jan. 5, 2021.
Early voters stand in line at the State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Ga., on Dec. 14, 2020. (Megan Varner/Getty Images)
According to data from state officials, about 1.2 million Georgia residents requested absentee ballots for the runoffs. More than 1.1 million people have voted by mail or in person as of Friday.
The appeal was filed a day after Judge Eleanor Louise Ross of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia ruled against the appellants, denying them the requested relief. That was one of two lawsuits tossed on Thursday.
Ross, an Obama appointee, called concerns about election fraud “far too speculative.”
Raffensperger and officials in his office have repeatedly clashed with fellow Republicans in the state, along with Trump and his campaign, over how the presidential election was run. They’ve dismissed claims of fraud and said the election was run smoothly.
Raffensperger announced this week that Georgia would conduct a statewide check of signatures on mail-in ballots.
The election official told reporters at a press conference that the step is part of the effort of “restoring faith in elections that has been undermined by the tsunami of disinformation.”
“Frankly, there’s been no investigatory rationale for it. At this point it’s become such a drumbeat of disinformation, we now feel obligated to restore confidence in the process by doing it now,” added Gabriel Sterling, who works out of Raffensperger’s office as the state’s voting system implementation manager.