In a revealing look at the November 2020 election, “Rigged: How the Media, Big Tech and the Democrats Seized Our Elections” number one best-selling author Mollie Hemingway’s new book released Tuesday explains how Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger through a number of actions enabled absentee voting that is known to favor Democrats.
With the number of questionable votes and election irregularities in the state, there is not only reason but evidence to question whether Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump in the November 2020 election by an audit-lowered 11,779 vote margin is legitimate.
With Republican control of the state – the Republican Party controls the offices of governor, secretary of state and both chambers of the General Assembly, one would think Trump would have had plenty of post-election support in the state to determine how it flipped from Trump in 2016 to Biden in 2020.
Quite the opposite was true, Hemingway observes:
“Unlike the other states that were causing the Trump campaign trouble, Georgia had a Republican governor and a Republican secretary of state. But that only made the problems the Trump campaign faced more daunting, as Georgia Republicans had been complicit in many of the electoral changes that had occurred in the preceding year.”
Some of those electoral changes involved absentee or mail-in ballots, which were not approved by Georgia’s General Assembly, the only entity the state’s constitution recognizes when it comes to authority over elections. Instead, Raffensperger initiated the widespread use of mail-in ballots by mailing absentee ballot applications to Georgians, despite the voting method favoring Democrats, especially in Georgia.
As Hemingway writes, “In some states, such as Georgia, some 80 percent of Republicans said they wouldn’t vote by mail.”
Democrats, on the other hand, strongly preferred to vote by mail and the vote-by-mail system was becoming a major part of the Democratic Party’s get-out-the-vote operation. Regardless of fraud and other concerns, the press saw the success of the mail-in ballot effort in Wisconsin for what it was: an effort to turn out more Democratic voters. Following the Wisconsin primaries, the New York Times reported, ‘Wisconsin Democrats are working to export their template for success – intense digital outreach and a well-coordinated vote-by-mail operation – to other states in the hope that it will improve the party’s chances in local and statewide elections and in the quest to unseat President Trump in November.’
Months after the 2020 presidential election, Time magazine published its triumphant story of how the election was won by ‘a well-funded cabal of powerful people, ranging across industries and ideologies, working together behind the scenes to influence perceptions, change rules and laws, steer media coverage and control the flow of information. They were not rigging the election; they were fortifying it.’
Hemingway contends that the activists weren’t ultimately concerned about democracy in the larger sense. “These activists were much more concerned about enabling the Democratic Party’s push to expand mail-in voting and focus its get-out-the-vote operation on mail-in voting. If it could get local and state government to assist in that partisan effort, Trump would be defeated,” writes Hemingway.
“Democrats had figured out how to get what they wanted from existing rules. The only thing that could have been better was if they could import their ‘intense digital outreach and a well-coordinated vote-by-mail operation’ into the official government election offices in heavily Democratic areas.”
In Georgia, and long before COVID-19 as Hemingway points out, Democrats had already made inroads.
“[T]he Democratic Party of Georgia, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sued Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger in November 2019 to get him to water down the state’s requirements for checking signatures on mail-in ballots.”
As Hemingway goes on to explain, on March 6, 2020, Raffensperger, with the advice and counsel of much of the state and national Republican establishment, entered a “consent decree” conceding to the Democrat Party’s demands, including a new procedure for reviewing signatures on mail-in ballots.
In addition to allowing “curing” of absentee ballots that came in with problems that would typically end in discounting the ballot, the decree also astonishingly left it up to Democrats to provide guidance and training on signature verification to county registrars and absentee ballot clerks.
Most important, the settlement got rid of any meaningful signature match for mail-in ballots. The law had previously required signatures to match the signatures on file with the Georgia voter registration database. But the settlement allowed the signature to match any signature on file, including the one on the absentee ballot application that Raffensperger would soon decide to send to every address on file. That meant a fraudulently obtained ballot would easily have a signature match, leaving no way to detect fraud.
The consent agreement also made it more difficult to reject mail-in ballots. Under the new rules, a ballot could only be rejected if a majority of registrars, deputy registrars, and ballot clerks assigned to the task agreed to it, another burden that made it easier to just let all ballots through without scrutiny. What’s more, many counties used minimum-wage temporary workers to sort through ballots, not skilled analysts of what constitutes a signature match.
The change to the law, combined with the consent decree, did exactly what the Democrats had hoped: it made it more difficult for election officials to reject absentee ballots. Critics would later note that the absentee ballot rejection rate in Georgia had plummeted since 2016, when 6.4 percent of mail-in ballots were rejected, and 2018, when 3.6 percent of mail-in ballots were rejected. In 2020, just .4 percent of absentee ballots in the general election were rejected.
Hemingway goes on to say that election officials are reluctant to check — much less scrutinize — signatures in any election, but it’s a practical impossibility when dealing with hundreds of thousands or millions of such ballots, like Georgia experienced in the November 2020 election.
Signature Verification for Mail-In Ballots is a joke! Today confirmed it. I received notification that my ballot was accepted. The top signature is my official one on file. The 2nd is how I signed my application. The 3rd is how I signed the ballot envelope. We must fix this! pic.twitter.com/iFxWx4u7sH
— Wes Cantrell (@wcantrell) December 22, 2020
Liberal billionaires also assisted Democrats to run their vote-by-mail operation through official government offices in Democrat-heavy counties in Georgia, with help from Raffensperger, and other Democratic cities. As Hemingway explains:
Raffensperger also requested and received a $5,591,800 grant from the privately funded Center for Election Innovation and Research (CEIR), a group funded by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan. The group reported Georgia used the funds to push mail-in balloting and to counteract negative messaging about mail-in voting. The secretary of state’s office focused the spending in Democratic counties, hoping to avoid the negative media attention that had greeted them after the Democratic counties botched the June primary. Particularly with Democrats’ strategy being to drive up mail-in voting, the millions of dollars in advertising and support of Democratic counties acted as a state-run complement to Democrats’ get-out-the-vote operation.
Hemingway said that after the election, while CEIR tried to downplay its work helping Democrats, “Left unsaid was that Biden states received 88.4 percent of the funding and an average award of more than $3.5 million – 3.34 times as large as the Trump states received. Four states that received funds switched from Trump states in 2016 to Biden states in 2020.”
“Some of the money was taxpayer-funded, such as the more than $10 million Georgia received in Help America Vote Act funding to hep with mail-in balloting.”
In an April 15, 2020, letter to Mona Harrington, acting executive director of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, Raffensperger pointed to several absentee ballot-related expenses for which the funds would be used. One of the programs Raffensperger outlined was grants to counties related to what ended up being the very problematic absentee ballot drop boxes.
“And,” Hemingway continues,” that doesn’t count the $45 million sent to the counties themselves to privately fund the handling of mail-in voting with a tech oligarch’s money.”
Hemingway discusses the devastating impact of Raffensperger’s decree combined with the indiscriminate mailing of absentee ballot applications.
[T]he secretary of state’s office unilaterally mailed nearly seven million absentee ballot applications to Georgia residents, further undermining what little security mail-in ballots had. The method of indiscriminately mailing out ballot applications to more than seven million registered voters led to greater instability of the signature match system, even in the unlikely case that poll workers were checking for matches.
Moreover, signature match couldn’t verify that the person to whom the ballot was sent was a legitimate voter or wasn’t lying about whom the ballot was for. If the same person signed both the ballot application and the ballot itself, the signature matched, but that didn’t prove the identity of the voter was accurate. And sending out millions of ballot applications provided ample opportunity for malefactors to procure bogus ballots, knowing that a signature wouldn’t prove they were fraudulently obtained to begin with.
Though issues with the November 2020 election were numerous, as Hemingway points out, “Few of the concerns raised by Republicans could get meaningful attention from the office. When Raffensperger did try to quell Republican discontent, he often seemed to be more interested in protecting his reputation than addressing their concerns.”
Raffensperger has opened a number of investigations such as residency issues and drop box chain of custody documents, “But it was too little too late,” observes Hemingway.
“In the months since the 2020 election, data has been put forth showing strong reason to question the legality of more votes than the margin Biden won by. Had a court been willing to hear the argument, and had Trump’s attorneys been able to show the data in the weeks following the election, a good argument could have been made for holding a new election,” concludes Hemingway.
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Laura Baigert is a senior reporter for The Star News Network, where she covers stories for The Georgia Star News and The Tennessee Star.
Photo “Brad Raffensperger” by Brad Raffensperger. Background Photo “Georgia Capitol” by DXR. CC BY-SA 4.0.