Georgia’s too-close-to-call presidential contest devolved into a fight Monday among Republicans as the state’s top election official rejected calls from its two U.S. senators that he resign for challenging President Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud. Monday morning, Gabriel Sterling, a lifelong Republican who manages Georgia’s voting system, took to a lectern at the Capitol to plainly and matter-of-factly dismiss criticism of election illegalities in the Southern battleground state as “fake news” and “disinformation.” “Hoaxes and nonsense,” Sterling said. “Don’t buy into these things. Find trusted sources.” Hours later, GOP Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler — who are each in a Jan. 5 run-off that will determine control of the chamber — called on Sterling’s boss, Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, to resign for allegedly mismanaging the state’s elections. “That is not going to happen,” Raffensperger said. Georgia’s 16 electoral votes are no longer key to deciding the election. Democrat Joe Biden has already secured 290 electoral votes — 20 more than needed to win the White House. With Biden leading Trump in Georgia by more than 12,000 votes — 0.25% of the total — Republicans in the state are nevertheless locked in a civil war as the presidential race heads for a recount. The upheaval shows how Trump’s persistent and unfounded claims of fraud and refusal to concede the election to Biden are dividing not just the country but his own party.
Georgia Republicans want ‘signature audit’ of absentee ballots. Why it likely won’t happen | Nick Wooten/Columbus Ledger-Enquirer
It’s unlikely the Georgia Secretary of State’s office will further examine absentee voter signatures despite calls from top Republicans ahead of the state’s recount, a top election official told reporters Monday. Top Republicans, including President Donald Trump and Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, have requested signature audits tied to Georgia’s absentee voting. Under state law, the identification or signature of voters is checked twice during the absentee voting process, and an accepted ballot can’t be traced back to a signed envelope once the two are separated. The process protects ballot secrecy. But county election officials keep the signed envelopes for two years. Currently, there’s no state law requiring or outlining the process for rechecking envelope signatures against the state database after those signatures were already confirmed, said Gabriel Sterling, the state’s voting system implementation manager. “If a court orders it or if we have specific investigatory reasons, you do it,” he said of auditing the signatures. “If we make a precedent of ‘I don’t like the outcome. Therefore, we should start investigating random parts of the process.’ …It’s a bad precedent.”