Famed Atlanta Attorney Lin Wood Has Sued Georgia Secretary of State over Signature Matching for Mail-in Ballots

AP Photo/John Bazemore

A lawsuit was filed on Friday by famous libel attorney Lin Wood – with himself as a plaintiff — against Brad Raffensperger, the Secretary of State of Georgia over the terms of a settlement of a lawsuit in Georgia reached in March 2020.

The lawsuit — Democratic Party of Georgia v. Raffensperger, was filed in 2019, prior to COVID-19.   A First Amended Complaint was filed on December 27, 2019, with the allegations involving a challenge to the “signature matching” and opportunity to “cure” rejected ballots under the statute governing absentee balloting.

The lawsuit was brought by the “A-Team” of DNC election litigation — attorney Mark Elias of the law firm Perkins Coie.  The basics of the suit are that use of absentee ballots has increased significantly in recent years, the Democrat Party of Georgia — like the DNC nationally — intended to make significant efforts to increase Democrat turnout in upcoming elections through the use of absentee ballots by voters who qualified to use them in Georgia, and those efforts would be compromised by the “signature matching” provisions in Georgia law.  It alleged that untrained election workers would mistakenly reject ballots based on erroneous “matching” determinations, thereby disenfranchising voters who had lawfully cast ballots.

The lawsuit also challenged the lack of definitive standards with regard to the “curing” process set forth in Georgia law for such rejected ballots.  During a three day period following the election, voters who had their ballots rejected could sign a form affidavit attesting to the fact that the ballot and signature were authentic, and the vote would be counted.  But there was no statewide standard or procedure written into the statute for how voters were to be advised that their ballots had been rejected.  Different counties in Georgia used different methods for making contact with such voters, some of which were ineffective in advising the voter about the rejection until after the three-day “curing” period had expired.

On March 6, 2020 — prior to the nationwide pandemic taking hold — Raffensperger settled the lawsuit brought by the Democrats over the signature matching and curing issues.  It is the terms of this settlement which are at the heart of the lawsuit filed last week by Lin Wood.

In the settlement agreement, which Wood attaches as an exhibit to this Complaint, Raffensperger agreed to require the county election officials to abide by specific procedures to address the signature matching and “curing” issues raised in the complaint.  With regard to the “signature matching” issue, Raffensperger agreed that the following procedures would be used:

County registrars and absentee ballot clerks are required, upon receipt of each mail-in absentee ballot, to compare the signature or mark of the elector on the mail-in absentee ballot envelope with the signatures or marks in eNet and on the application for the mail-in absentee ballot. If the signature does not appear to be valid, registrars and clerks are required to follow the procedure set forth in O.C.G.A. § 21-2-386(a)(1)(C). When reviewing an elector’s signature on the mail-in absentee ballot envelope, the registrar or clerk must compare the signature on the mail-in absentee ballot envelope to each signature contained in such elector’s voter registration record in eNet and the elector’s signature on the application for the mail-in absentee ballot. If the registrar or absentee ballot clerk determines that the voter’s signature on the mail-in absentee ballot envelope does not match any of the voter’s signatures on file in eNet or on the absentee ballot application, the registrar or absentee ballot clerk must seek review from two other registrars, deputy registrars, or absentee ballot clerks. 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 a determination is made that the elector’s signature… does not match any of the voter’s signatures on file in eNet or on the absentee ballot application, the registrar or absentee ballot clerk shall write the names of the three elections officials who conducted the signature review across the face of the absentee ballot envelope, which shall be in addition to writing “Rejected” and the reason for the rejection as required under OCGA 21-2-386(a)(1)(C). Then, the registrar or absentee ballot clerk shall commence the notification procedure set forth in O.C.G.A. § 21-2- 386(a)(1)(C) and State Election Board Rule 183-1-14-.13.                  

With regard to creating of a uniform “curing” process statewide, Raffensperger agreed to the following:

When a timely submitted absentee ballot is rejected, the board of registrars or absentee ballot clerk shall send the elector notice of such rejection and opportunity to cure, as provided by O.C.G.A. § 21-2-386, by mailing written notice, and attempt to notify the elector by telephone and email if a telephone number or email is on the elector’s voter registration record, no later than the close of business on the third business day after receiving the absentee ballot. However, for any timely submitted absentee ballot that is rejected on or after the second Friday prior to Election Day, the board of registrars or absentee ballot clerk shall send the elector notice of such rejection and opportunity to cure, as provided by O.C.G.A. § 21-2-386, by mailing written notice, and attempt to notify the elector by telephone and email if a telephone number or email is on the elector’s voter registration record, no later than close of business on the next business day.

What these provisions amount to is an effort by Elias and the DNC to “prep the battlefield.”  They know the DNC is preparing to engage in widespread efforts to dramatically increase the use of absentee ballots across the country to drive up Democrat party turnout in 2020 — this was the plan before COVID-19 fell into their lap as the perfect vehicle to justify “vote-by-mail.”

The goal was to create a system that was so onerous and burdensome that it worked as a disincentive to rejecting ballots based on mismatched signatures.  The goal was to neutralize the “signature matching” requirement as a brake on fraudulent mail-in balloting.

This is supported by the fact that the lawsuit targeted Gwinnett County as the “offending” county in the allegations of the suit.  Gwinnett County is a suburb of Atlanta, with a population of just under 1 million residents.  It is now a “majority-minority” county in Georgia, with more than 50% of the residents African-American or Hispanic.  In 2016, Gwinnett County was carried by Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump, 51-45%.

In 2020, the County went in favor of Joe Biden over Pres. Trump, 58-40% — with an increased vote total of over 75,000 votes (166,000 to 242,000).

Gwinnett County government and election officials are not among the last vestiges of the KKK in Georgia.  Yet it was Gwinnett County that the Elias lawsuit focused on.

Why?  Because one purpose of the lawsuit was to “free up” the election officials in these counties from the responsibility of rejecting ballots based on mismatched signatures.

The lawsuit filed by Lin Wood challenges whether Raffensberger, as Secretary of State, had the authority under the US Constitution to change the provisions of the statute passed by the Georgia Legislature. It basically is an “attack in waiting” — depending on the outcome of the case now pending before the Supreme Court involving the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

But it also points out a huge problem with the recount currently underway in Georgia.  Much has been made of the fact that Raffensperger is not requiring “signature matching” as part of recounting the millions of mail-in ballots used by voters.  But give the “signature matching” requirements he agreed to in March, and the “curing” requirement he agreed to, it is practically impossible in the course of a hand recount of all ballots for those terms of the settlement agreement to be complied with.

But, it might just be possible that Raffensperger is laying the groundwork to declare the popular vote on Nov. 3 as unreliable, leaving the issue of naming electors in the hands of the Georgia legislature.

 

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