Quick — get that super-PAC on the air fast! This is precisely why the counter-messaging designed to get Donald Trump’s supporters to vote in the runoffs is going to fail, and fail big league. While Trump Jr cuts ads urging MAGA-land voters to turn out for David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler on January 5th, Trump himself is messaging this over their heads:
….Also, quickly check the number of envelopes versus the number of ballots. You may just find that there are many more ballots than there are envelopes. So simple, and so easy to do. Georgia Republicans are angry, all Republicans are angry. Get it done!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 30, 2020
In the first place, how would any emergency relate to ballot procedures? We set rules in advance for elections precisely to prevent ad-hoc handling of elections. There is no emergency declaration that would touch this process, and the process itself is set by legislation which Kemp has no authority to change. The idea of using “emergency powers” to override statute on elections is absurd on its face, and more reminiscent of banana republics than American governance.
Next, the ballot signatures have already been checked — twice — in this process. Kemp can’t order another signature match against the ballots because the ballots get separated from the signatures when they get counted. We have secret ballots in this country, remember? Once the signatures get checked on intake (after a previous check on the absentee application), the envelopes are separated out. Even if you find a mismatch, you can’t point it to a specific ballot.
Business Insider’s Grace Panetta pointed out the obvious:
It's impossible to do signature matching *again* because the ballots have already been separated from the envelopes with the voter's name and signature on them. You just can't trace back a ballot to a specific voter's envelope after that separation https://t.co/EYmyMa7hXn
— Grace Panetta (@grace_panetta) November 30, 2020
Basically, you request an absentee ballot, and you sign an oath affirming you are who you say you are on the envelope you put that ballot in, and then you send it to the county election office. The worker there takes it, checks your signature to verify you are who you say you are, and then sends it along to be counted. That’s how signature matching happens in Georgia in its most basic form.
Now, the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office actually added a signature matching step this year: When you requested an absentee ballot, they required a signature on your absentee ballot request form (or, if you requested it online, made you submit your driver’s license number when you made the request through the Secretary of State’s online portal).
So they checked your signature before even sending you a ballot, and then checked it again when they received your ballot.
When President Trump says something like “Georgia won’t let us look at the all important signature match,” what he is asking for – to look at the signatures again – is literally impossible.
The reason for that lies inside the Georgia state constitution itself: It clearly stipulates that, “Elections by the people shall be by secret ballot and shall be conducted in accordance with procedures provided by law.” (emphasis added)
That’s why the ballots get separated from those envelopes, which makes an audit of signature matching academic at best. To invalidate ballots, challenges have to be specific and substantive to each ballot, not conjecture based on data analysis spread broadly to an entire class of ballots. Atlanta’s 11Alive news station pointed this problem out two weeks ago, too, which makes this argument even stranger today. Either no one pointed it out to Donald Trump, or he just doesn’t care.
Either way, this is the headwind that the state GOP and Don Jr face in trying to message for a big voter turnout in the runoffs. The very people they want to reach are the people who are listening to Trump Sr’s messaging that the whole system they will have to use is corrupt, and so is the leadership that’s pushing the voting. Every one of these tweets undermine the whole point of the super-PAC. They’d be better off sending Don Jr to the Oval Office rather than Georgia.