GA Will Appeal Judge’s Order Blocking Absentee Ballot Rejection Over Signatures

ATHENS, GA - JULY 24:  Secretary of State and Republican Gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp addresses the audience and declares victory during an election watch party on July 24, 2018 in Athens, Georgia. Kemp defeated opponent Casey Cagle in a runoff election for the Republican nomination for the Georgia Governor's race.  (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)
Jessica McGowan/Getty Images North America

Georgia will appeal a ruling from a federal judge blocking the rejection of absentee ballots because of alleged signature mismatch, the state indicated in a court filing asking the judge to pause her order.

The filings said that by “adding brand new, untested processes ad hoc to long established election procedures at the eleventh hour, it will introduce uncertainty and confusion under extreme time pressure at best, and it risks undermining the integrity of the State’s election process.”

“Staying that injunction to allow review by the Eleventh Circuit will ensure at least a measure of careful deliberation before upending the State’s election processes in the middle of a general election,” the court filing said.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R), who is also running for governor, as well as county election officials in Georgia are facing two lawsuits over how they handle absentee ballot and ballot applications where they believe the voter’s signature does not match the one they have on record. U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May issued orders this week ending their policy of rejecting those ballots and applications outright. Instead, under an order she issued earlier Thursday, election officials should treat those ballots with alleged signature mismatch issues as provisional ballots, while taking steps to make sure the voters have the opportunity to address the discrepancy.

Her order Thursday reflected some of the feedback she had requested from the election officials as well as the challengers after she indicated Wednesday she planned to block the rejection policy.

In the court filing indicating Georgia would appeal the order, Kemp said that the additional “safeguards” the judge imposed “will add little value.”

Kemp expressed particular concern about the challengers’ request, granted by the judge, that the affected voters be allowed to have an attorney present on their behalf documents verifying their identity. This accommodation was made with absentee voters with disabilities or other mobility issues in mind.

“Allowing individuals other than the voter to ‘confirm’ the voter’s identity merely by having the voter’s identification plainly introduces a risk of fraud—particularly absent any kind of oath or affidavit requirement for the ‘attorney’ presenting the voter’s identification,” Kemp argued in his latest filing.

Read the filing below:

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