The statewide recount of ballots cast in Georgia in the 2020 election began in earnest Friday morning, and the Trump Campaign and Georgia GOP are already crying foul due to the nontransparent process.
When Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger announced that there would be a hand recount in Georgia, he indicated that a full audit would take place “to ensure that every legal vote is counted, and that any voter fraud is identified.”
Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of the Tea Patriots, said in a statement Friday that the actual process his office was directing “falls far short of that goal.”
She complained on Twitter that the state was not allowing enough monitors to observe the process, slamming it as “a fake recount.”
People on both sides will believe Georgia is running a fake recount with 1 monitor/10 audit teams.
We need 1 monitor per campaign per 1 audit team and monitors close enough to see what teams are reading & doing.
DEMAND 1 monitor/campaign/audit team close enough to see details.
— Jenny Beth Martin (@jennybethm) November 13, 2020
“As it stands now, neither campaign will be satisfied with the current process,” Martin said. “More importantly, Georgia voters will not have confidence in our electoral process without a transparent, open process that is done right and counts every legal vote.”
“Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is doing a tremendous disservice to the people of Georgia by conducting what can only be described as a ‘fraudit’ which fails to provide a complete examination of the election system, the voter rolls, and the eligibility of those who voted,” said Americans for Limited Government President Rick Manning in a statement today.
“Gov. Brian Kemp and the Georgia state legislature need to step up to the plate and conduct their own, independent audit as the Raffensberger effort is clearly nothing more than a “fraudit” designed to give the appearance of review without engaging in the real substance of that review,” Manning continued.
“Having the Secretary of State audit his own work is like having former Enron CEO Ken Lay audit his own company’s books, and the state legislature needs to step in and conduct their own independent review of not only the vote counting system, but whether systemic fraud occurred using the absentee ballot system. The eyes of the nation are on Georgia, it is important that the state get the vote counting right,” he concluded.
An election observer shared a short video of the proceedings in Cobb County, where poll watchers were being kept far away from the counting.
“You tell me if you could see what these people are doing,” the woman said. “This is horrible for our integrity of our election process.”
One of our observers at the hand count of the ballots ordered by Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. Does this inspire confidence? pic.twitter.com/jRoFCvqWoZ
— David Shafer (@DavidShafer) November 13, 2020
Gabriel Sterling, Georgia’s voting system manager said in a tweet that all party’s agreed to “One monitor per party per 10 adjudication teams.”
He tweeted: “Neither party had an issue with that ratio while both had other comments on the rules. Anyone saying otherwise is misinformed.”
Chairman of the Georgia Republican Party David Shafer shot back: “This is not true. Congressman Doug @CollinsforGA and I objected to the ratio in this letter yesterday. See page 2, paragraph 3.”
Rep. Doug Collins (R-Georgia)—who’s leading the Trump Campaign’s recount effort in the state—and Shafer penned a letter to Raffensperger on Thursday, laying out their concerns, chief among them the lack of signature verification in the recounting process, and lack of “meaningful access to the auditing process.”
“Your office announced today that the state parties can designate only one reviewer for every 10 audit teams,” the Georgia Republicans wrote. “That makes it impossible for hand count decisions to be reviewed in real time. One designated monitor cannot observe ten tables at once. Transparency has been a very significant problem during this election.”
Collins and Shafer also expressed grave concern that counties were directed to certify their results by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, while the recount was still going on.
In Georgia, individual counties have 10 days after the election to certify the results of the vote. The date for that this election cycle is today, Nov.13.
After the votes are certified on a county level, they are then sent to the Secretary of State’s office, which then has to certify the votes cast for all the candidates on both the state and local level “not later than 5:00 P.M. on the seventeenth day following the date on which such election was conducted.” That date for this election cycle would be Nov. 20.
“We are very troubled by the directive issued today that counties must certify their results by 5:00 P.M. tomorrow,” Collins and Shafer wrote. “Given that the audit and recount will necessarily still be ongoing, it is completely improper for counties to be directed to certify the accuracy of the results before the audit and hand count are completed.”
The Republicans also complained that they received the “parameters” for the hand count process “only within the last few hours” which was “simply not sufficient public notice of the existence, location, and times of the audits and hand counts.”
Collins and Shafer went on to complain that “no substantive guidance regarding the necessity of maintaining the security of the ballots, the transporting of ballots, and documenting the chain of custody as required by law.
Republican U.S. Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler also expressed grave concerns with Raffensperger in a joint statement earlier this week.
Both senators are heading to runoffs in Georgia because neither of them reached the required 50 percent plus one vote required to win their elections. They will have to square off once again with Democratic challengers Jon Ossoff and Reverend Raphael Warnock in January.
The senators stated that “every legal vote cast should be counted” and “any illegal vote must not,” and complained that Georgia elections have become “an embarrassment.” The pair called for his resignation due to his many “failures.”
The management of Georgia elections has become an embarrassment for our state. Georgians are outraged, and rightly so. We have been clear from the beginning: every legal vote cast should be counted. Any illegal vote must not. And there must be transparency and uniformity in the counting process. This isn’t hard. This isn’t partisan. This is American. We believe when there are failures, they need to be called out — even when it’s in your own party. There have been too many failures in Georgia elections this year and the most recent election has shined a national light on the problems. While blame certainly lies elsewhere as well, the buck ultimately stops with the Secretary of State. The mismanagement and lack of transparency from the Secretary of State is unacceptable. Honest elections are paramount to the foundation of our democracy. The Secretary of State has failed to deliver honest and transparent elections. He has failed the people of Georgia, and he should step down immediately.
Earlier this year, an investigation was launched in 100 of Georgia’s 159 counties due to the discovery of 1,000 instances of double voting in the state’s June primary and August runoff elections.
President Trump trailed Joe Biden in Georgia by 14,163 votes as of Friday morning.
Below are a list of concerns Rep. Doug Collins and GOP Chairman David Shafer conveyed in their letter to Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger:
First, the audit does not include a review of signatures on absentee ballot applications and ballot envelopes to confirm the validity of the statutory signature verification process by the counties. Our analysis of your office’s publicly available data shows that the number of rejected absentee ballots in Georgia plummeted from 3.5% in 2018 to 0.3% in 2020. This raises serious concerns as to whether the counties properly conducted signature verification and/or other scrutiny of absentee ballots. In fact, it presents the issue of whether some counties conducted any scrutiny at all.
We reiterate our earlier request that this hand count and audit process include review of signatures on absentee ballot applications and envelopes in order to ascertain whether the signature verification process was properly executed by the counties. We believe that a review of the signatures is fundamental to this procedure. We do not believe it is possible to certify the results of the 2020 General Election without conducting this investigation and analysis.
Second, we have concerns about meaningful access to the auditing process by our designated monitors. Your office announced today that the state parties can designate only one reviewer for every 10 audit teams. That makes it impossible for hand count decisions to be reviewed in real time. One designated monitor cannot observe ten tables at once. Transparency has been a very significant problem during this election. During the initial vote tabulation, some counties placed ballot reviewers in multiple rooms and aggressively enforced arbitrary distancing restrictions that prevented poll watchers from effectively observing the tabulating process. In other counties, poll watchers were not allowed an unobstructed view of the tabulating process. We are concerned that your directive today has replicated and aggravated these problems.
You have publicly stated that transparency and openness are a high priority to you. That requires a system that allows our designated monitors to be able to meaningfully observe the audit and hand count. Having one monitor for ten audit teams does not allow for transparency. We hereby request that you allow designated monitors on a one-to-one ratio for every audit team as well as for every vote review panel.
We also request that you direct the counties to make certain that the designated monitors are able to confirm their ability to actually see the process as it occurs. Simply allowing monitors somewhere in the vicinity of the audit process is not sufficient for proper and meaningful oversight. And it is certainly not meaningful if the monitors are behind obstructions or not even in the same room as
the audit teams and the vote review panels.
Third, we are very troubled by the directive issued today that counties must certify their results by 5:00 P.M. tomorrow. Given that the audit and recount will
necessarily still be ongoing, it is completely improper for counties to be directed to certify the accuracy of the results before the audit and hand count are completed.
The purpose of the audit and hand count is to ascertain whether the unofficial tabulations were accurate and conducted in accordance with state law. Only upon completion of the audit and hand count should there be a certification of the results but not before. Please rescind your earlier directive that the counties are required to certify their results tomorrow afternoon. And we further request confirmation
that your office will not rely on the accuracy of any certified results from the counties until after the hand count and audit are completed.
Fourth, we had expected to receive by yesterday the parameters for the hand count in order to provide sufficient time to the public of the process to be followed. However, your training and guidance were issued only within the last few hours and the counties are directed to start the audit tomorrow. That is simply not sufficient public notice of the existence, location, and times of the audits and hand counts. We would request that you delay the commencement of the process until Monday, November 16, 2020, in order to provide ample public notice in every county of the commencement and details of the audit. We would also request that the counties announce and post publicly and clearly when and where they will conduct the audit. It would be helpful to post that information from all the counties on your website. And, in that spirit, we would also request that you notify all counties that they must not begin the audit without public notice or outside the presence of our designated monitors.
Fifth, the security of the paper ballots is critically important. Aside from a single passing reference about security during today’s training, the Secretary of State’s office provided no substantive guidance regarding the necessity of maintaining the security of the ballots, the transporting of ballots, and documenting the chain of custody as required by law.