- The Washington Times
Friday, May 28, 2021

Failed Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacy Abrams is targeting safeguards in the state’s new election integrity law that restrict photographing a voter’s ballot touch screen and limit the ability to relay ongoing vote tallies.

The Democratic former minority leader in the state House of Representatives, who has never conceded her 2018 governor race loss, heads Fair Fight Action. It is a major financial contributor to the Coalition for Good Governance, which filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court asking a judge to strike down the state’s election overhaul law passed in April.

Ms. Abrams and other Democratic activists argue that the new law replaces the signature-match verification process with a requirement for a voter photo ID in applications for absentee ballots.

There are other less-publicized issues. The lawsuit also asks the court to strike down new restrictions on what polling place monitors may do during both early and Election Day voting. 

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who oversees state elections, criticized the lawsuit, saying, “The Stacey Abrams-funded Coalition for Good Governance was one of the main spreaders of disinformation about voting machines, now they are doing the same thing with SB 202. We look forward to defeating another frivolous lawsuit.”  

The Republican-led state legislature included the rules to prevent voting-buying in which the touch screen could be photographed to show how the person voted to collect payment. Same-day vote tabulating would tell political candidates how many votes they need to win. 

Georgia is one of the battleground states President Trump lost on Nov. 3 and then alleged widespread voting fraud, evidence for which has not materialized. 

The Abrams-backed coalition wants four vote-monitoring rules struck down by a judge. The lawsuit says this criminalizes the role of observers who want to make sure the election is conducted fairly and violates the Constitution’s due process guarantee and freedom of speech. 

The four:

- Observing a voter so closely that the monitor can see for whom the elector is voting.

- A “gag rule” that prohibits monitors from communicating what they see to political operatives.

- Tabulating the vote and releasing numbers to outsiders before the polls close.

- Photographing the computer touch screen to show how a person voted before the ballot is printed and scanned into a counting machine.

For the photo ban, the group cites journalist and ballot machine skeptic Bradley Friedman, who for years has investigated reports of voter fraud and joined the lawsuit as a plaintiff. The suit says the photo restriction violates his freedom of the press.

Mr. Friedman told The Washington Times, “I have a long record of supporting citizens or groups of citizens making efforts, as they see fit, to press for oversight in elections, and to push for transparent, overseeable election results that are based on independently verifiable evidence.”

Overall, the coalition wants Georgia to end reliance on machines –– in this case Dominion Voting Systems ballot marker touch screens –– and go exclusively to filling out paper ballots. The lawsuit says banning photographs is not practical.

“The oversized Dominion BMD touchscreen displays voter selections in such a way that they are clearly discernible to a person with normal vision who has a line of sight to the screen from any distance at which other people are likely to be located within a polling place,” the complaint states.

The legal suit claims Dominion’s machines are “vulnerable to hacking exploits” because someone can attach a USB stick to the scanner or printer during the vote.

The Georgia Secretary of State’s office says there is no evidence any Dominion machine was hacked. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security says it saw no evidence any voting system was hacked by domestic or foreign actors. A Georgia hand recounting matched the numbers on the Dominion machines.

In 2018, Ms. Abrams lost the governor’s race to Gov. Brian Kemp by 54,723 votes. Like President Trump in his Georgia race against President Biden, Ms. Abrams contends that she beat Mr. Kemp. She has never conceded and says she was the victim of “voter suppression.”

Mr. Raffensperger highlights the state’s 17 days of early voting and the fact it has no-excuse absentee ballots. Any registered voter can request one without giving a reason for not voting in person.

• Rowan Scarborough can be reached at rscarborough@washingtontimes.com.

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