As of Wednesday, Georgia voters cast more than 914,000 ballots. Meanwhile, the GOP forges ahead with three lawsuits in hopes of challenging their validity.
Nearly 75,000 new voters registered in Georgia ahead of the Jan. 5 runoff elections—enough to potentially move the needle toward a Democrat-controlled Senate—and the GOP is not taking the early voting results lightly.
About 56% of the newly registered voters are under 35 years old, a population that skews Democratic. Some of them are recent transplants to Georgia, and others just reached the legal voting age. The Civics Center, an organization devoted to youth civic engagement, found that 23,000 17-year-olds who were ineligible to vote in the presidential election are eligible to vote in the Jan. 5 runoff elections. Even if they had not yet reached their 18th birthday by Nov. 3, if they registered to vote before the Dec. 7 deadline and will be of age by Jan. 5, 2021, they can vote in the runoff. That could mean a serious bump in the ballot count.
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The electorate appears to be making a strong showing during the early voting period. As of Wednesday, voters cast more than 914,000 ballots, closely tracking the 916,000 people who had voted at this point in the general election. The numbers signal that people are, indeed, returning to the polls to make their voices heard in these critical elections, which will determine the course of the US Senate.
Wary of the advantage the increase in absentee voting delivered to Democrats in the general election, Georgia GOP officials filed three lawsuits challenging mail-in ballot requirements in the state.
The Republican National Committee, the Georgia Republican Party, and Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, who are the Republican candidates in the race, filed the suits last week against Georgia’s Republican election administrators. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who refused President Donald Trump’s demands that he throw out election results, is included in the lawsuit.
The plaintiffs want the courts to order more reviews of the signatures on absentee ballots. The signature verification process has election workers check the voter signature on a mail-in ballot envelope against a signature on file. Trump, disputing his re-election loss, spread unfounded allegations that Georgia’s signature-matching process for mail-in ballots was flawed and allowed for fraud. Georgia performed two recounts to verify the results. Raffensperger said he would work with state lawmakers next year to explore other methods. For now, the state is beholden to the laws that are on the books.
“If there’s a better way to do it, the signature match, the secretary is certainly willing to be at the table for that legislative process. But changes to the law require action of the General Assembly,” said Brian Robinson, a communications consultant for Raffensperger’s office. “Our current election laws were passed by Republican general assemblies.”
Tens of thousands of Georgia voters have already submitted their absentee ballots.