ATLANTA – Election reform is coming to Georgia after Governor Brian Kemp (R) signed the SB 202, Election Integrity Act of 2021, mere hours after it landed on his desk.
During his televised remarks about the legislation Kemp stated, “With Senate Bill 202, Georgia will take another step in ensuring elections, accessible and fair.”
He thanked Chairman Barry Flemming and Chairman Max Burns and Senate and House Leadership for their work on the issue.
Kemp also mentioned his fight to keep Georgia’s elections fair by investigating voter fraud and defending the state’s voter ID laws.
“After November I knew like so many of you that significant reforms to our state elections were needed. There’s no doubt there were many alarming issues with how the election was handled and those problems understandable led to the crisis of confidence at the ballot box here in Georgia,” Kemp said.
Kemp was the first to call on Raffensperger to audit the absentee ballots and did so four times.
SB 202 replaces signature match with a state-issued ID requirement and Kemp believes this will streamline the absentee ballot process. He added the bill makes it “easy to vote and hard to cheat.”
Weekend voting will be expanded to two mandatory Saturdays and two optional Sundays. Ballot drop boxes will be secured 24/7 and security paper is required for ballot authentication.
“November 2020 election saw a 350 percent increase in the use of absentee ballots,” Kemp explained. “This obviously led local election workers to have to process far more ballots using a time consuming, labor-intensive, and at times arbitrary process.”
Georgia Democrats have been vocal about their opposition to the bill, calling it a power grab for a declining party that doesn’t know how to connect with a changing Georgia.
Election Integrity Act of 2021 does limit the power of the Secretary of State, removing the elected official as chairman of the state board of elections. The Secretary of State will now be a “nonvoting ex officio member” and the legislature will appoint the chairman. The state board can now oversee and review the performance of local election boards too. If a board is found lacking, the state board can appoint a new supervisor for that county.
The 90-plus page bill can be read on the General Assembly site.
President Joe Biden (D) spoke about the election reform legislation sweeping Republican-controlled state legislatures. He called the bills “sick” saying it made “Jim Crow look like Jim Eagle.” He promised to do everything in his power to stop the reform efforts.
Other states with election bills in process are Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
ELLIJAY, Ga – Tenth District Representative Jody Hice (R) addressed why he’s running for Secretary of State against incumbent Brad Raffensperger (R).
On Monday, Hice officially announced his candidacy and has been making his case ever since. He even earned former President Donald Trump’s endorsement shortly after his announcement.
Hice cited his work as the ranking member on House Oversight and Government Operations committees and trying to fight House Resolution One. The bill recently passed the House and moved to the Senate. The piece of legislation backed by Democrats addresses the voting process and voting rights. If passed, it would become the biggest overhaul in U.S. election law in a long time.
Congressman Hice claimed that the Democrats used the pandemic to change the way the country votes and mentioned how he urged Raffensperger to not mass mail ballot applications in Georgia. He blamed Raffensperger’s actions for leading to a” horrendous decaying of election integrity in Georgia.”
Hice added that the erosion of voter confidence led to the election of two Democrat Senators in Georgia. He stated that Georgia and the nation are “suffering because of the dismal performance by the Secretary of State.”
Raffensperger continues to stand by the 2020 election results and that the Secretary of State’s Office ran fair and honest elections. He leveled blame at Hice for spreading the election conspiracy and furthering voter mistrust.
Hice still believes that a thorough investigation would reverse the 2020 Presidential Election outcome and advocated for an unbiased audit of the Dominion voting machines.
Both Hice and David Belle Isle, Republican Secretary of State candidate, agreed that Dominion voting machines need to be investigated and Georgia should look into using different machines.
When asked if Trump is just using Hice to settle his score with Raffensperger, Hice called those stories false much like the story about Trump asking Raffensperger to overturn the election. The Congressman added that those stories are the Secretary of State Raffensperger’s narrative. Trump did ask Raffensperger to find 11,870 votes and he urged an investigator to scrutinize ballots in Fulton County.
ALPHARETTA, Ga – Former Alpharetta Mayor David Belle Isle hosted his Secretary of State campaign kick-off on Monday, March 22 at Alpharetta City Park and called out Raffensperger’s elections procedures.
Trump supporter State Senator Brandon Beach (R – Alpharetta) introduced the candidate. Beach spoke about until after the November election his cell phone seldomly rang and everyone who called asked about election reform.
“The reason I’m supporting David is I know he’s a man of character, integrity, and he’s smart and that matters. He would not have entered into an agreement that really made two sets of rules for voting in person and absentee ballots,” Beach said.
He wants Georgia to take the path of Florida concerning reform and have the 2022 results in by the 11 p.m. news. Belle Isle promised Beach that he would make that happen.
Belle Isle spoke about how it’s tough to be a conservative, and many feel attacked either by the media, corporate America, or big tech.
“Most people raise their families and most people live applying conservative values and conservative principles whether they know it or not,” the candidate remarked. “The entire purpose of the Republican Party is to bring human flourishing within the reach of every American, within the reach of every Georgian. We do this by opening the widest door possible.”
He directly leveled the blame for the November elections at Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R). Speaking to election integrity, he stated that every vote must be validated.
“The disaster that was the 2020 election was not something that happened to Brad Raffensperger. It was something that happened through Brad Raffensperger,” Belle Isle commented. He then listed the actions Raffensperger took leading up to the 2020 primary and general elections.
The list included signing the compromise settlement agreement with Fair Fight Georgia and Stacy Abrams, the mass mailing absentee ballot applications before the primary, drop boxes, and allowing signature verification only for absentee ballots.
Belle Isle added that he’s not “here to say one way or another” if the election was stolen, but what happened in Georgia was worse than that – “an election that can neither be proved fraudulent or fair.” The Secretary of State’s Office did conduct three recounts that all resulted in the same outcome.
Later, the former mayor stated he was in favor of removing no excuse absentee ballots, but understands it’s an uphill battle.
According to Belle Isle, the settlement agreement “made it difficult for counties to efficiently reject an invalid mail-in ballot” and it took three people to reject a mail-in ballot. The rejection rate dropped from three percent to practically zero percent.
Citing the Senate runoff, he commented how thousands stayed home because they lost confidence in the system. Typically, turnout does drop if a Presidential election isn’t on the ballot.
Belle Isle believes he’s the best man for the job with a focus on restoring voter integrity as the backbone of his campaign.
“The Secretary of State needs to be hands-on. The Secretary of State needs to be in that office on a daily basis. I mean looking at the election process from top to bottom. A lot of what’s been happening here is essentially someone governing from afar, leading from afar, and handing it off to his lieutenants,” Belle Isle stated about Raffensperger’s handling of the Secretary of State’s Office.
Congressman Jody Hice also entered the Secretary of State race on Monday.
ATLANTA – Shortly after announcing his intent to run for Secretary of State, Tenth District Congressman Jody Hice (R – Athens) began garnering endorsements.
Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz and former President Donald Trump have issued statements of support.
Trump called Hice “one of our most outstanding Congressmen” and “a steadfast fighter for Georgia conservative values.” The former and highly controversial President also took a minute to throw shade at the current Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger who became an enemy of Trump’s during the November election.
Hice sided with Trump’s narrative about the election and was quick to criticize Raffensperger for his actions. The Secretary of State’s Office conducted three recounts for the Presidential race and each one confirmed the results. The lawsuits concerning illegalities in Georgia’s elections were thrown out as well.
The importance of a Trump endorsement remains to be seen within the Republican Party. Many registered Republicans either support or detest the individual while others believe his involvement in the January 6 runoffs cost the GOP the Senate and flipped the state.
David Belle Isle announced his candidacy for Secretary of State on Sunday. He came in second to Raffensperger in the 2018 primary runoff.
Raffensperger intends to run for reelection in 2022 despite the GOP adopting a resolution that he “undermined public confidence” on Friday.
With Hice running for Secretary of State, it leaves Georgia’s Tenth Congressional District up for grabs with several names already being floated around, such as State Rep. Houston Gaines, State Senator Bill Cowsert, State Rep. Jodi Lott, Mike Collins, and even former Tenth District Rep. Paul Broun.
Trump’s promised to throw his weight around in several Georgia races including the governor and U.S. Senate. Governor Brian Kemp didn’t side with the former President concerning the November election either. At this time, no Trump-backed candidate has entered those races.
ATLANTA – Fellow Republican and incumbent Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger will face primary competitors after 10th District Representative Jody Hice (R – Athens) and former Alpharetta Mayor David Belle Isle announced their candidacies.
Rumblings of Hice’s run began last week, and FYN previously informed the public to expect a statement from the Congressman.
In his press release, Hice called out Raffensperger for his “inaction” and creating “cracks in the integrity of our elections.”
“Free and fair elections are the foundation of our country. What Brad Raffensperger did was create cracks in the integrity of our elections, which I wholeheartedly believe individuals took advantage of in 2020. Though I am encouraged to see the General Assembly taking it upon themselves to address some of the glaring issues in our elections, Georgia deserves a Secretary of State who will own the responsibilities of the office. If elected, I will instill confidence in our election process by upholding the Georgia Constitution, enforcing meaningful reform and aggressively pursuing those who commit voter fraud.
Every Georgian, in fact every American, has the right to be outraged by the actions and, simultaneously, the inaction of our Secretary of State. Our state deserves a leader who steers clear of scandals and focuses on the incredibly important duties of the office. If elected, my top priority will be ensuring every Georgian’s legally cast ballot is counted in future elections. I am excited about our campaign and I know together we can renew integrity!” Hice said in a press release.
David Belle Isle
As for Belle Isle, he previously came in second in the Secretary of State primary. The former Alpharetta Mayor and attorney hopes to “fix the mess at the ballot box and restore voter confidence in Georgia.” He announced his campaign over the weekend.
See Belle Isle statement below:
“I am running for Secretary of State to clean up the mess, secure the mail-in ballot, and restore voter confidence,” said Belle Isle. “In the recent elections, we witnessed voter suppression on a massive scale, triggered by voter uncertainty and made worse by the Secretary’s poor decisions, carelessness, and failure to lead. In the Senate runoff, thousands of Georgia voters chose to stay home rather than condone a process that appeared uninterested in the difference between valid votes and invalid votes. Raffensperger single-handedly bargained away our election integrity and skewered the credibility of our mail-in ballots,” Belle Isle continued. “Then, he looked us in the eye and told us that the 2020 election was the safest, most secure election in our history. It was not, and it’s time to hold the Secretary of State accountable.”
David points to the Compromise Settlement Agreement signed by Raffensperger and Stacy Abrams as the biggest obstacle to voter confidence and election integrity in Georgia. “The Compromise makes it very difficult for counties to reject invalid mail-in ballots, which likely resulted in thousands of invalid ballots being fully counted,” stated David. “The integrity of our State depends on the integrity of our elections. As Georgia’s next Secretary of State, I will reject the Compromise Settlement Agreement and work to better secure the mail-in ballot process. I will work to clean up the voter rolls and call for a true independent audit of Dominion. Most importantly, I will put fresh eyes on our entire election system, from top to bottom, with the goal of delivering to the people of Georgia fair and provable elections.”
Georgia has been the focus of national attention during the election process, and David believes there is a unique opportunity to demonstrate how common-sense conservatism can solve a state’s problems. “However,” he points out, “It won’t be easy. Conservatives are under attack. We are being banned, censored, and cancelled. Georgians know that our shared conservative values are at the heart of our State’s success. The way we lead and the policies we have championed have attracted new businesses and lured new citizens to our State. Yet, there is national pressure on our citizens to vote against the very principles that got us here.”
As we face our next election cycle, David knows that Republicans are seeking to support the right leaders who will help Georgians flourish. “Before those leaders can be successful however,” David emphasized, “we must fix the mess at the ballot box and restore voter confidence in Georgia.”
The Belle Isle campaign kick-off event is today, March 22 at 5:30 p.m. in Alpharetta City Park.
ATLANTA-Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger unveils a new online portal to make it easier for Georgia voters to request absentee ballots for the November elections. Georgia voters with a driver’s license or state ID card will now be able to request an absentee ballot entirely online.
“Georgia is constantly searching for new and innovative ways to expand access to the ballot and uphold the integrity of the vote,” said Raffensperger. “We are encouraging Georgia voters who are particularly vulnerable to the COVID-19 threat to use our new online absentee ballot request portal to request absentee ballots safely and securely from their computers or phones. This new tool will help counties stay on top of the several million absentee ballot requests expected in November.”
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has developed a website that will allow Georgia voters to request an absentee ballot entirely online. Georgia voters will be able to request their ballot via the portal using their first and last name, date of birth, county where they are registered, and Georgia State ID or Georgia Driver’s License number. Voters will get a confirmation email that their request has been entered into the system. Also, voters can monitor their ballot status on My Voter Page.
Absentee ballots requested for the November 2020 presidential election cannot be sent out before September 15.
In the past, Georgia voters had to download and print an absentee ballot request, then scan and email it or put it in the mail. This new portal saves voters effort and postage and will increase confidence that the request has been received by county elections officials. It also makes it easier and faster for county election official to process absentee ballot requests by minimizing the possibility of data entry errors.
While the State ID or driver’s license number provide a secure safeguard for requesting ballots, the ballots themselves will still be verified by matching the voter signature to their signature on file upon submission. A record 1.6 million absentee ballot requests were received for the June primary, inundating county elections officials. This portal will make processing the large number of absentee ballot requests expected for the November election easier for county election officials to process quickly and accurately.
(ATLANTA) — Today, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced that, pursuant to the authority vested in him by O.C.G.A. § 21-2-50.1, he is postponing the Statewide General Primary/Presidential Preference Primary Election until June 9, 2020.
Yesterday, Governor Brian Kemp extended the current public health state of emergency until May 13, 2020. Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan and Speaker of the House David Ralston concurred in the Governor’s extension of the state of emergency.
“Due to the Governor’s extension of the state of emergency through a time period that includes almost every day of in-person voting for an election on May 19, and after careful consideration, I am now comfortable exercising the authority vested in me by Georgia law to postpone the primary election until June 9,” said Secretary Raffensperger. “This decision allows our office and county election officials to continue to put in place contingency plans to ensure that voting can be safe and secure when in-person voting begins and prioritizes the health and safety of voters, county election officials, and poll workers.”
Throughout this crisis, the Secretary of State’s office has been in close contact with county election officials across the state. Over the past week, the reports of mounting difficulties from county election officials, particularly in Southwest Georgia, grew to a point where county election officials could not overcome the challenges brought on by COVID-19 in time for in-person voting to begin on April 27. Additionally, current modeling by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation projects the COVID-19 pandemic in Georgia will peak around April 24, only days before in-person voting was scheduled to begin. While challenges will certainly remain on June 9, these additional three weeks will give the Secretary of State’s office and counties time to shore up contingency plans, find and train additional poll workers, and procure supplies and equipment necessary to clean equipment and protect poll workers.
Emergency authority is something that should be exercised carefully, and moving an election should only take place in the rarest of circumstances. While Secretary Raffensperger previously expressed concern that he did not have the authority to move the primary election again, the Governor’s extension of the state of emergency to a time that includes almost every day of in-person voting for a May 19 election is sufficient to allow the Secretary to exercise the emergency authority given to him by O.C.G.A. § 21-2-50.1 and move the primary election to June 9.
“I certainly realize that every difficulty will not be completely solved by the time in-person voting begins for the June 9 election, but elections must happen even in less than ideal circumstances,” said Raffensperger. “Just like our brave healthcare workers and first responders, our county election officials and poll workers are undertaking work critical to our democracy, and they will continue to do this critical work with all the challenges that the current crisis has brought forth. This postponement allows us to provide additional protection and safety resources to county election officials, poll workers, and voters without affecting the November election.”
The voter registration deadline for the June 9, 2020 election will be May 11, 2020. Early voting will begin on May 18, 2020. Pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 21-2-501, moving the primary election to June 9, 2020 will move the primary runoff to August 11, 2020.Pushing back the primary to June 9 gives Georgia election officials additional time to put in place contingency plans to allow for safe and secure voting, but pushing back the primary election any further could potentially have negative consequences on preparation for the November 3, 2020 General Election. Given existing deadlines to prepare and send ballots for the November election, particularly for military voters, moving forward on June 9 is the best way to ensure a successful election year in Georgia.
Absentee ballot applications for the upcoming primary election will continue to be accepted and processed by counties even if the application said May 19. Once county election officials properly verify the signature on the application, the voter will be sent an absentee ballot for the primary election now to be held on June 9.