For many legal scholars, it was a longshot effort at best: one state’s leaders suing over the elections in other states after their preferred candidate — President Donald Trump — lost.
Still, 28 Republican state legislators and seven congressmen from Georgia said there were enough irregularities in the November presidential election that they filed a brief in support of a lawsuit brought by Texas officials against Georgia and other states.
The U.S. Supreme Court quickly declined to consider the case, saying Texas did not have legal standing to sue Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin over their handling of the election. In a brief decision, the court said Texas didn’t have the legal right to bring a lawsuit against elections run by other states.
Most Georgia politicians — particularly Republicans — jealously guard and regularly cite states’ rights, and they are loath for any other state, or the federal government, to tell them what to do.
But many of Georgia’s Republican elected officials were willing to side with Texas in its lawsuit against their state’s handling of the election. Some still say, without evidence, that Trump won the election in Georgia.
“I believe that there was a strong possibility that the irregularities in the voting in our state cost Donald Trump 16 electoral votes,” said state Rep. Greg Morris, a Vidalia Republican. “In this close election, I thought it would certainly deserve to have been heard in court.”
Democratic nominee Joe Biden beat Trump in Georgia and electors across the nation cast their ballots for Biden on Monday. Trump has spent more than a month claiming fraud and pressuring GOP officials who run the state to flip it into his electoral column.
Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has repeatedly said there is no evidence of widespread voter fraud in Georgia. Trump’s U.S. Attorney General William Barr has said his investigators found no evidence of fraud on a scale that would have changed the outcome of the election.
State Sen. Brandon Beach, an Alpharetta Republican, called on his colleagues to convene a special session to investigate the allegations of fraud — most of which have been debunked. It would take two-thirds of the Legislature to agree to call a special session, and that was never going to happen.
The General Assembly convenes for its 2021 regular session shortly before inauguration day.
Beach said he disagreed with an agreement Raffensperger made with the Democratic Party of Georgia earlier this year to settle a lawsuit. The agreement required his office to quickly notify voters if there was an issue with their absentee ballot and allow them time to rectify any problems.
“Since we weren’t able to go into special session, I was more than happy to join an amicus brief to support the Texas lawsuit because I think what Brad Raffensperger entered into without legislative approval was illegal,” Beach said. “He had no right to change election law as he did.”
Raffensperger said the settlement clarifies but doesn’t change state law and was within his authority.
U.S. Rep. Rick Allen, R-Evans, said he and other members of Georgia’s congressional delegation had complained to Raffensperger about the consent decree.
“We had conversations with the secretary of state in May about this and warned him that this could happen,” Allen said.
However, there wasn’t widespread public concern about the decree until after Biden beat Trump in Georgia, in large part because of the heavy use of absentee voting by Democrats.
Allen said he signed the brief not in support of Texas’ lawsuit, but because he wanted the court to weigh in on the legality of the consent decree. Yet he also repeated unsubstantiated allegations that people who no longer live in Georgia were allowed to vote in the general election and that ballots may have been submitted fraudulently.
“I wanted a court to tell me is this fair in America or not,” he said.
Lawsuit after lawsuit including those allegations has been tossed out.
Of the 35 Georgia Republican elected officials who signed the Texas amicus brief, only eight would speak to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on the record. Twenty-five did not respond to requests for comment via phone call, email and text.
State Sen. Matt Brass, a Newnan Republican, declined to comment. U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson, a West Point Republican, said his office would share a statement with the AJC, but it never did.
State Sen. Lindsey Tippins, a Marietta Republican, said the fact that all four of the states Texas challenged had used the same Dominion voting system convinced him that the election could have been thrown. Tippins voted in 2019 to approve the purchase of the voting system from Dominion.
Many Republicans have challenged the accuracy of the Dominion Voting Systems machines, alleging that election fraud was accomplished through “ballot stuffing” by the voting software. The software company has repeatedly disputed the claim and threatened defamation lawsuits against Trump lawyers making the accusations.
“There’s been a great deal of testimony in some of the hearings, and affidavits that have been signed point to some single instances (of irregularities) and some are systemic that could have some seismic impacts,” Tippins said. “All I’m saying is, I think the Georgia public ought to get to the truth.”
Georgia Republican elected officials who signed the amicus brief
State Sen. William Ligon
State Sen. Burt Jones
State Sen. Brandon Beach
State Sen. Greg Dolezal
State Sen. Bruce Thompson
State Sen. Matt Brass
State Sen. Blake Tillery
State Sen. Marty Harbin
State Sen. Lindsey Tippins
State Sen. Tyler Harper
State Sen. Randy Robertson
State Sen. Renee Unterman
State Sen. Jeff Mullis
State Sen. Steve Gooch
State Sen. Lee Anderson
State Sen.-elect Sheila McNeill
State Rep. Jason Ridley
State Rep. Trey Rhodes
State Rep. Rick Williams
State Rep. Colton Moore
State Rep. Jeff Jones
State Rep. Don Hogan
State Rep. Wes Cantrell
State Rep. David Clark
State Rep. Bill Werkheiser
State Rep. Steven Meeks
State Rep. Greg Morris
State Rep. Sheri Gilligan
U.S. Rep. Rick Allen
U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter
U.S. Rep. Doug Collins
U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson
U.S. Rep. Jody Hice
U.S. Rep. Barry Loudermilk
U.S. Rep. Austin Scott