- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 23, 2021

State election laws, revised in a rush before the November 2020 presidential election to make it easier for people to vote during the coronavirus, led to systemic distrust in the integrity of our election system, and is the reason why many Republican-held states have decided to pass new election laws, strengthening the system.

It’s also the reason why Democrats were so eager to nationalize our federal elections when they came into power — many of the state laws passed in 2020, most of which were meant to be temporary — sowed chaos into the system, making it easier to cheat. Democrats would like to codify those rules, making a pandemic year the baseline for all future elections. Republicans must work at the state level to prevent this from happening.

Take for example, Georgia, where there continues to be an independent investigation of the vote count in Fulton County, where forensic analysts are inspecting absentee ballots to find counterfeits or other signs of fraud.

In March 2020, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger gave into Democratic demands and signed a consent decree — never consulting with the state’s legislative bodies – that made it harder to reject mail-in ballots. Instead of allowing one election official to determine if a ballot was valid or not, three election officials had to decide whether the ballot should be rejected by a majority rule, leading to a lower rejection rate.

In 2016, Georgia’s mail-in ballot rejection rate was 6.4%. In 2018, it was 3.1%. In 2020, it dropped to a staggering 0.3% — all while handling five-times the volume of ballots, because of extended mail-in efforts. Former President Donald J. Trump lost Georgia by about 12,000 votes. Changing this one rule alone — in March 2020 — may have cost him the state.

In addition, because of the coronavirus and worries people wouldn’t show-up for in-person voting, Georgia decided to use drop-boxes for the first time ever. Counties were to have a clear chain of custody on these ballots, which were to be delivered to the election precincts the same day of collection to be signed and dropped off with election officials.

Yet, in many Georgia counties, this didn’t happen. No one seems to know who was doing the pick-ups, and some ballots that were gathered at the drop boxes weren’t delivered to the precincts for four or five days. Each of Georgia’s 159 counties had their own contractors and vendors monitoring these drop boxes — which were available to be used 24 hours daily — making it hard for the state to know what voters were using them, and who was collecting the ballots.

Fulton County is the fourth county in Georgia to face an investigation into charges it failed to complete absentee ballot transfer forms every time election workers collected ballots from the drop boxes, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported last week. The entire process was sloppy, leading skeptics to believe ballot-harvesting, where Democratic operatives collect absentee ballots from voters to fraudulently sign them and then deliver them to a drop box, and/or ballot stuffing, ran rampant.

To prove this, however, Georgia would have to review every camera at every drop box, to see exactly who was dropping off these ballots, when they were delivered to the precincts, and then be able to trace them back to the voter. It’s a herculean task — making the fraud easier to get away with.

This year, against brutal Democratic opposition, Georgia looked to tighten its election security. Wisely, state Republicans limited the number of drop boxes to be used in future elections and curtailed the length of time voters would have access to them, so they could have a better chain of custody. It also moved away from signature verification on absentee ballots, to an ID requirement, such as writing down a driver’s license number on a ballot, so it would be less subjective on election workers as to know which ballots were legitimate or not.

The new law is hardly a “Jim Crow” relic, as proclaimed by Democrats. It’s purely designed to make voting easier and cheating harder. To restore trust in the electoral process, after a pandemic year and altered election laws sowed havoc into the system. All states, governed by Republican legislative bodies, should be enacting similar measures.

• Kelly Sadler is commentary editor at The Washington Times.

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