With Biden’s Georgia win certified, few paths for Trump to overturn outcome

By: - December 8, 2020 6:40 am

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Monday that the third count of votes cast in the presidential election confirm President-elect Joe Biden’s close win over President Donald Trump. Stanley Dunlap/Georgia Recorder

The options appear to be shrinking fast for President Donald Trump and his allies attempting to overturn Georgia’s election results after becoming the first Republican presidential candidate to lose in the state in nearly 30 years.

Trump’s venues to continue fighting grew fewer Monday than at any point since President-elect Joe Biden was projected the winner a month ago. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger certified the results following a third count of the nearly 5 million ballots, and judges dismissed two more lawsuits seeking to order a new election or have Trump declared the winner of the one on Nov. 3.  

Biden’s win fueled Trump’s baseless claims of election fraud and many of the president’s supporters continue to say that thousands of illegal votes in a corrupt voting system or other broken election laws cost the president a Georgia win.

Georgia’s Democratic electors are scheduled to select Biden on Dec. 14. But even without the state’s 16 electoral votes, Biden still claims 290 nationally, well beyond the 270 required to be declared the winner.

Accusations of widespread election fraud are roundly dismissed by Raffensperger, Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr and U.S. Attorney General William Barr – all Republicans. Meanwhile, more than 30 of the roughly 50 election lawsuits filed on Trump’s behalf in several states have been rejected or dropped.

“I can’t imagine anything is going to change the outcome,” said Charles Bullock, a political science professor at the University of Georgia. “On the other hand, I also believe it’s highly likely that a lot of the Trump people are going to continue to believe that the election was stolen and support any efforts to file lawsuits no matter how quickly they’re dismissed.”

Over the weekend, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp refused to order a special session so that legislators could illegally reverse the election results. On Monday, U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Georgia Judge Timothy Batten dismissed a lawsuit filed by former Trump attorney Sidney Powell.

And a Fulton County judge on Monday also dismissed outspoken Atlanta attorney Lin Wood’s lawsuit seeking to block the certification. 

Another complaint from Trump and state Republican Party Chairman David Shafer alleging tens of thousands of illegal votes were cast is still up in the air. It was reportedly refiled Monday by a Trump attorney after being rejected for incompleteness and a failure to pay filing fees. 

“The president has his due process rights and those are available to him,” Raffensperger said Monday. “It’s time we all focus on the future and growth. I know there are people that are convinced the election was fraught with problems. But the evidence, the actual evidence, the facts, tell us a different story.”

After this latest recount, this time through electronically rescanning paper ballots, the size of Biden’s victory over Trump shrank by 886 votes from 12,760 in the initially certified results to 11,784 votes.

Fulton County accounts for the bulk of the difference after about 800 of the roughly 524,000 ballots cast there could not be found during the recount.

Bullock said that a change in vote totals is natural in a recount, especially when dealing with the record number of votes cast in the Nov. 3 election. Biden’s wins are also holding up in several other battleground states, including Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, where Trump lost pivotal electoral votes by about the same margin as he defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016, he said.

“One of the things that some people suddenly now have come to expect is absolute perfection,” Bullock said. “So, anytime there’s a ballot or something like that where there is a problem, they’re like ‘oh looky there yeah it just goes to show that the election was corrupt.’ Well, gee, that’s not the way that those things are usually interpreted. Human error. Get over it.”

Some Georgia Republicans are not taking no for an answer from Kemp and Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan. Republican state Sen. Burt Jones led a charge Monday to get people to sign a petition demanding legislators replace the electors in a special session. 

Misleading information, flat out lies

The manager overseeing the state’s voting system, Gabriel Sterling, sarcastically quipped Monday morning about how his job at the secretary of state’s frequent press conferences has too often involved rebutting the latest conspiracy theory and other misleading information intended to discredit the integrity of Georgia’s elections.

The persistent criticism of the state’s election system and its new $104 million voting machines has many Republicans like Duncan worried that it’ll discourage Republicans from voting in the Jan. 5 runoff where GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler is pitted against Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock and GOP Sen. David Perdue is in a battle against Jon Ossoff. 

During a rally in Valdosta Saturday for Loeffler and Perdue, Trump continued to rail against the security of absentee ballots and claimed that they were falling from the ceiling and coming out of leather bags to tilt support for Biden.

On Monday, Sterling again shot down a theory that surveillance footage shows a suitcase filled with absentee ballots improperly being pulled out by unmonitored Fulton election workers at State Farm Arena. He also dismissed some false statements floating around on social media that Demcrotatic state senators counted votes in Georgia or another state.

U.S. Congressman Jody Hice, a Monroe Republican, spread misinformation that an algorithm caused Dominion voting machines to flip votes in Biden’s favor in Ware County over the weekend, Sterling said.  

“I’m frustrated that we continue to see people who are put in positions of responsibility, sending out disinformation and undermining the electoral system,” he said.

By the time, election workers wrapped up counting a record 1.3 million absentee ballots days after the Nov. 3 election, Biden led Trump by about 14,000 votes.

Because of the heightened attention and razor-thin margin, Raffensperger ordered a full hand count of every ballot a week after Election Day as part of an extensive audit on the state’s voting system.

The audit discovered about 6,000 missing ballots, mostly stored on memory cards that had not been properly uploaded during the election. The additional votes Trump did gain still left him significantly behind but gave his supporters more ammunition to question the conduct of the election.

Raffensperger, standing up against pressure coming from within his own party, has won praise from many state Democrats and from some of the same voting rights organizations that often battle with the top election official over allegations of voter suppression.

But much of that support is likely to evaporate as Raffensperger promises to push for election reform when the upcoming legislative session starts next year, including requiring a photo ID to vote by absentee ballot.

Still, at least one powerful Republican hasn’t given up on putting Georgia in Trump’s column sooner than later. House Speaker David Ralston said on a north Georgia radio show Tuesday that he had a phone call with President Donald Trump the day before. The Blue Ridge Republican has not joined his colleagues in publicly throwing cold water on talk of a special session. Trump has pressed governors and GOP lawmakers in the swing states where he lost to call a session and seat their own electors.

Ralston said he told Trump that a special session was “very much an uphill battle” without the support of high-ranking state Republicans like the governor. lieutenant governor and the attorney general. Lawmakers are also short the votes needed to call for one on their own, although Ralston said the House is only two votes short of the three-fifths support needed in that chamber.

Ralston said he also talked to Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, this week about a more obscure legislative path potentially available through the U.S. Constitution.

“That’s something I think we ought to tread very, very carefully around because that can be used against us someday as is this call for a special session,” Ralston said on Fetch Your News.

But Ralston also said he did not want to “lightly brush off any possibility that there is an avenue open.”

“I told the president yesterday that one of the reasons I want to continue to look and be sure that we don’t foreclose any possibility here is because I believe it is vital that he be reelected,” he said.

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Stanley Dunlap
Stanley Dunlap

Stanley Dunlap has covered government and politics for news outlets in Georgia and Tennessee for the past decade. The Georgia Associated Press Managing Editors named Stanley a finalist for best deadline reporting. The Tennessee Press Association honored him for his reporting on the disappearance of Holly Bobo.