Give the man credit for consistency — Donald Trump’s entire legal strategy in the post-election challenge is to call off elections. The problem is that his arguments aren’t finding buyers in state legislatures. This call is even more unsupportable than attempts to throw elector selection to state houses rather than through the popular vote, and more undermining for GOP hopes to control the Senate:
Do something @BrianKempGA. You allowed your state to be scammed. We must check signatures and count signed envelopes against ballots. Then call off election. It won’t be needed. We will all WIN! https://t.co/UiJrlyBGiK
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 1, 2020
First off, there are two Senate runoff races. Trump appears to be arguing that the kind of audit he demands would put David Perdue over the 50% mark, voiding the need for a runoff against Jon Ossoff. However, that still leaves the runoff from the open election for the other seat — where Raphael Warnock won a 31% plurality. In other words, “we” would not “all win” at all. Kemp would still need to hold an election for that seat on January 5, so exhorting him to “call off election” is just plain ignorant, as well as obviously self-defeating.
Next, as has been explained ad nauseam, Georgia already did not one but two signature checks on mail-in ballots. Their voter-ID statute required the check on both the application and the receipt of the ballot, which is then also matched against the application before submission. At that point, the ballots are separated from the envelopes because Georgia’s constitution requires secret balloting. Even if a mismatch can be found, it can’t be linked to a specific ballot. There is no way to go back and redo that part of the process, and everyone knows it or should know it by now. Beating this drum is nothing but demagoguery.
The timing here couldn’t be more exquisitely stupid, either. At the same time that Trump is telling Georgia it doesn’t need an election, the Republican Party is sending his son out to tell voters they have to get out and vote in the election his dad wants called off. A six-figure ad buy features Don Jr telling Trump supporters that Don Sr is practically on the ballot himself:
In a six-figure radio ad being released in Georgia today, Donald Trump Jr. tells the state’s voters that the U.S. Senate — and his father’s accomplishments — are on the line during January’s special election, according to audio obtained by Axios.
Why it matters: Trump Jr.’s first of many advertisements in the Georgia Senate races argues the race isn’t just about electing the Republican incumbents, but also about preserving President Trump’s agenda. …
The one-minute radio ad is sponsored by a new super PAC, Save the U.S. Senate, which was recently formed by advisers to Trump Jr. amid growing concerns that Trump voters will boycott the Georgia Senate runoffs.
Why wouldn’t they boycott the election? Donald Sr’s telling them it’s not necessary and that their election got stolen! As I wrote yesterday, they’d have been better off spending the money on a covert Donald Jr mission to take Donald Sr’s smartphone and Twitter app away from him. Instead, they’re running ads from a gamely determined Donald Jr that have no prayer of getting around Donald Sr’s demagoguery. And even worse for Don Jr, his dad’s making him look like a sap with MAGA-land voters for engaging in the runoffs, which won’t help with Don Jr’s own ambitions for office once his father’s off the stage.
Meanwhile, Democrats haven’t gotten this lucky since MAGA voters revolted in Alabama and nominated Roy Moore over the Trump-endorsed Luther Strange. This time, though, it’s Trump himself leading them down the primrose path to an unnecessary defeat. Maybe Lara Trump can sneak the presidential Twitter device out of the Oval Office and hide it for the next few weeks. Call it an early test for her own planned Senate run.
Update: Jim Geraghty has a reminder about the signature-matching process in Georgia:
Once again, every signature of every absentee voter in Georgia was checked twice. When a registered voter requests an absentee ballot, the signature on the ballot request is compared to the signature on the voter-registration card. Then, when the absentee ballot arrives to the county clerk, the signature on the absentee ballot oath envelope is compared a second time to the signature on the voter registration card and to the signature on the absentee-ballot request.
The consent decree signed earlier this year requires Georgia election officials to consult with their peers on mismatching signatures, to ensure one official isn’t making subjective assessments of a signature match. “A mail-in absentee ballot shall not be rejected unless a majority of the registrars, deputy registrars, or absentee ballot clerks reviewing the signature agree that the signature does not match any of the voter’s signatures on file in eNet or on the absentee ballot application.” If the absentee ballot is rejected, officials are required to notify the voter within three days with an “opportunity to cure” — that is, sort out whether they really are who they say they are, and work out whatever problem led to the rejection of the ballot.
Again, this has been repeated ad nauseam, and the Trump campaign has yet to produce any direct evidence of specific mismatches — and certainly not the 12,700 or so that would need to be found to call the results into question. Trump wants the impossible to prove the unreal or expects Kemp to prove a negative. It’s absurd, and it’s not at all how elections or the law works. Which is why Trump’s making these demands on Twitter and not in court.
Update: This is good news, but it may end up being insufficient:
The Republican National Committee has sent more than 500 staffers and thousands of volunteers to Georgia for the holidays, and has committed to spending at least $20 million in the Peach State in support of GOP Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler ahead of the Jan. 5 runoffs, Fox News has learned.
An RNC official told Fox News Tuesday that in addition to the “substantial team” already in Georgia for the general election, they have sent additional staff and recruited volunteers to deploy the GOP’s “data-driven GOTV operation.” …
“We are barnstorming the state to turn out the vote for the January 5th runoffs and the energy we are seeing on the ground is absolutely incredible,” RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel told Fox News Tuesday.
“In just a little over a week, we surpassed one and a half million voter contacts for Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue,” McDaniel said, referring to efforts on the ground in the week ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.
Great, but they’re going to have to make those contacts all over again to counter Trump’s messaging. And that assumes that he’ll stop undermining the RNC, his own son, and the two Republican candidates after this. What if Trump keeps this up until January 5?