Congressman Jody Hice: Brad Raffensperger’s Mailing of Absentee Ballot Applications to Everyone on the “Grossly Inaccurate” Georgia Voter File for the November 2020 Election Was a “Horrible Decision That Majorly Impacted Our Election Process”


Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s mailing of absentee ballot requests to everyone on the Georgia voter rolls for the November 3, 2020 presidential election, was a “a horrible decision that majorly impacted our election process,” Congressman Jody Hice (R-GA-10) told The Georgia Star News in a telephone interview Thursday, calling the voter registration file “grossly inaccurate.”

The November 3, 2020 presidential election results certified by Raffensperger and Governor Brian Kemp had Democratic candidate Joe Biden ahead of President Donald Trump by less than 12,000 votes out of nearly 5 million votes cast, of which 1.3 million were fraud-prone absentee ballots.

Hice, who along with David Belle Isle is challenging Raffensperger for the statewide elected office of Secretary of State in the May 24 Republican primary, told The Star News he questioned Raffensperger about the decision. As ranking member of the Subcommittee on Government Operations for the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, a briefing was held with Republican members in December 2020 during which Hice called Raffensperger to be a witness.

While Hice didn’t expect him to do so, Raffensperger participated in the briefing with Republican members via Zoom.

“I personally asked him in that briefing, ‘Why did you send out absentee ballot requests to everyone on our voter registration file,’ knowing that our file is grossly inaccurate,” Hice relayed about his questioning of Raffensperger.

Raffensperger’s response to Hice was enlightening.

“His reply to that,” Hice said, “was that he feared a lawsuit by Stacey Abrams,” a prominent Georgia Democrat.

“So it was really because of fear,” Hice reiterated. “He [Raffensperger] caved to Stacey Abrams over fear of a lawsuit, and because of that, he sent out absentee ballot requests to everyone on our voter registration file, which included obviously hundreds of thousands of people that don’t belong on our file for one reason or another.”

Indeed, in June 2021, seven months after the presidential election and repeated allegations of irregularities during the November 2020 election, Raffensperger issued a statement about the first major voter roll maintenance effort since 2019. A total of 101,789 obsolete and outdated voter files were being removed from Georgia’s voter registration rolls, including 67,286 associated with a National Change of Address form submitted to the U.S. Postal Service, 34,227 that had election mail returned to sender, and 276 that had no contact with elections officials for at least five years.

An additional 18,486 voter files of dead individuals were removed by the office, based on information from Georgia’s Office of Vital Records and ERIC – the Electronic Registration Information Center interstate compact of 30 states and the District of Columbia. Raffensperger’s deputy, Jordan Fuchs, is a Board Member of ERIC.

Raffensperger’s apparent fear of and capitulation to Abrams goes back further than his December 2020 admission to Hice’s questioning before Republican members of the House Government Operations Subcommittee.

In early March 2020, Raffensperger entered into a compromise settlement agreement and release (agreement) with Abrams and the Democratic Party of Georgia, also referred to as a consent decree, that relaxed signature matching requirements on absentee ballots. The agreement was entered into as resolution to a legal complaint by the Democratic Party of Georgia, represented by Clinton attorney Marc Elias of the Perkins Coie lawfirm, against Raffensperger, the State Election Board and the Gwinnett County Board of Registration and Elections.

The complaint centered on the vagueness in Georgia statute relative to the requirement of the registrar to “promptly notify” voters of signature issues with their absentee ballot and the confusing layout and illegible font size of Gwinnett County’s absentee ballot envelope, The Star News previously reported.

The remedies that the Democrats sought directly addressed the two specific issues.

It is, therefore, unclear why Raffensperger’s agreement with the Democrats exceeded the requested relief by changing the signature-matching requirements of a registrar comparing the absentee ballot mailing envelope to the voter’s registration card to include a review by two other registrars before rejecting the ballot. A Raffensperger-issued official election bulletin required that an absentee ballot could not be rejected unless a majority of the three registrars agreed that the signature does not match any of the voter’s signatures on file.

Raffensperger’s bulletin not only materially changed Georgia law, O.C.G.A. 21-2-386(a)(1)(C), which required review by only one individual, it did not even go through as a rule change by the State Election Board, which would at least have the scrutiny of public meetings, adoption through a majority vote and publication of the meeting minutes and rules.

Raffensperger further agreed to allow the Democratic Party of Georgia and two other Democratic political organizations to actually conduct the signature comparison guidance and provide the training materials to registrars and absentee ballot clerks.

These were all facts that Raffensperger withheld from the Republican congressional delegation just weeks after he entered into the settlement agreement on March 6, 2020.

Later in March 2020, Raffensperger’s fellow Republicans in Congress decided to hold a conference call with him over concerns with the Democrat ramping up their push for HR1, the so-called For the People Act that would federalize the elections process.

By March, Hice told The Star News, “Rumors were swelling as to what the Democrats were pushing. They wanted live ballots sent to everyone in every state, everyone on voter registration files. They wanted drop boxes everywhere.”

“We decided to have a conference call with Brad [Raffensperger], just urging him to not fall for this, because all this stuff was coming down the pike,” Hice shared with The Star News, after first making the revelation about the conference call on The John Fredericks Show early last week.

“We found out later,” Hice continued with The Star News, “that about two weeks before our call, he [Raffensperger] had already made the deal with Stacey [Abrams] and, of course, he never mentioned that in our call. But, apparently the cake was already baked even before we could have that conference call.”

Raffensperger did not heed the urging of Georgia’s Republican congressional delegation, but instead went on through emergency rules to allow unattended absentee ballot drop boxes and to authorize county election administrators to begin processing absentee ballots up to three weeks before election day. Raffensperger also mailed absentee ballot applications to all 6.9 million registered voters, whether they were active or inactive.

Since all of these actions by Raffensperger were not provided for by the General Assembly in Georgia law, The Star News asked Hice if there is any recourse for Georgians for any violations of Georgia law or if the only satisfaction that Georgia voters can get is the upcoming primary.

Hice responded, “That’s a great question and it’s a question I myself even to this day am still asking: ‘What is the recourse?’”

Acknowledging that he is not an attorney, Hice said that in his opinion, “Here’s someone who made a decision, without the General Assembly making the decision, to send out absentee ballot requests to everyone on our file which, in essence, changed our election law. How did he have the authority to do so, and what is the consequence for doing so? How is he to be held accountable? And, to be very honest with you, to this point I don’t have a solid answer to that.”

Hice said that he thinks the General Assembly was also “deeply concerned” that Raffensperger made decisions apart from them. As a result, the General Assembly took away a lot of his power through SB202.

Hice cited a number of other issues in the Secretary of State’s office, particularly as it relates to business licensing. As a result, Hice said he has been “inundated” with businesses who have been unable to renew their licenses in a timely manner.

Hice summarized, “Raffensperger has single-handedly succeeded in making the entire office a train wreck.”

With both the business side and the election side, Hice said “the buck stops with the Secretary of State’s office, who has done a dismal job.”

Hice concluded about the current Secretary of State’s office, “It’s just stunning to me at this time, after a year of obstructing every attempt to get to the bottom of the election disaster that we had, that now Brad Raffensperger is going around patting himself on the back, beating himself on the chest as though somehow he is some champion for election integrity when, in reality, he has been forced into acknowledging that this was a horrible election. It was not, by any stretch, the most secure election in the history of our state, as he claimed. In reality, it was extremely fraught with irregularities and potential fraud. And, so, the idea that he now is trying to look as though and act as though he is a champion of election integrity is absolutely disgusting and false in every way. And, I just hope that the people of Georgia will recognize it for what it is and will come together in a unified manner and hold Brad Raffensperger accountable by voting him out of office and putting someone responsible in office.”

The general primary election is scheduled for May 24; however, as of the date of this reporting, the Secretary of State’s website section that displays qualifying candidates lacks a selection for 2022, leaving Georgians unable to view qualified candidates for the current election year.

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Laura Baigert is a senior reporter at The Star News Network, where she covers stories for The Georgia Star News and The Tennessee Star.
Photo “Jody Hice” by U.S. House Office of Photography. Photo “Brad Raffensperger” by GA Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. Background Photo “Ballot Drop Box” by Cliffordsnow. CC BY-SA 4.0.



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