Georgia’s Perdue sues over 2020 election, pushes fraud claim

Georgia Republican David Perdue is furthering his embrace of debunked claims that Georgia’s 2020 presidential election was wrongly decided by joining a lawsuit claiming that fraudulent or counterfeit ballots were counted in the state’s most populous county in the 2020 general election.

The suit, filed Friday, amplifies claims that the former senator has made this week since entering the 2022 Republican primary for governor on Monday, saying he wouldn’t have certified Georgia’s 2020 results if he had been governor then. Former President Donald Trump is backing Perdue in his challenge to incumbent GOP Gov. Brian Kemp, saying in an endorsement Monday that Kemp has been “very weak” on “election integrity.”

Perdue has been seeking to sew up the votes of Trump backers who believe the election was stolen, saying that’s how he’ll unify the Republican Party and beat Kemp in the primary and then Democrat Stacey Abrams. But his position that Georgia’s 2020 election was wrongly decided isn’t new. He said if he had been in the U.S. Senate on Jan. 6, he would have voted against accepting Georgia’s electoral votes.

Fulton County voter Elizabeth Grace Lennon and Perdue are seeking to examine paper ballots and other ballot materials in Fulton County in the state court lawsuit, saying that will prove the fraud. The suit, however, does not seek to overturn the results of the election, in which Georgia gave its 16 electoral votes to Democratic President Joe Biden.

“I want to use my position and legal standing to shine light on what I know were serious violations of Georgia law in the Fulton absentee ballot tabulation,” Perdue said in a statement released by lawyers. “We are asking a judge to consider the evidence after our forensic examination of the absentee ballots is completed and hold those persons responsible who engaged in this wrongful conduct.”

Spokespersons for Fulton County and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

The lawsuit is largely a repeat of one that Henry County Superior Court Judge Brian Amero dismissed in October after he ruled the plaintiffs, including longtime Georgia election systems critic Garland Favorito, hadn’t alleged a “particularized injury” and thus didn’t have standing to sue. Favorito and other plaintiffs are appealing that dismissal.

The new plaintiffs, who asked that the suit be assigned to Amero, say they have the standing to pursue claims that their state constitutional rights to equal protection and due process had been violated. Perdue claims his particularized injury was that he was a candidate for reelection in November but failed to achieve a majority, forcing him into a runoff with Democrat Jon Ossoff that Perdue lost. Lennon says she sought to cast an in-person early vote in October 2020 but was told she had already sent in a mail ballot.

Investigators with the Georgia Secretary of State’s office submitted a report to Amero just before he dismissed the case, saying they found no evidence of fraudulent ballots.

“Based upon the witness statements and examination of approximately 1,000 absentee ballots and ballot images, the Secretary’s investigators have not uncovered any absentee ballots that match the descriptions given … or otherwise appear to be fraudulent or counterfeit,” the legal brief said.

The new lawsuit recounts claims that the investigators debunked, including claims by Susan Voyles and three other auditors during a hand recount, that they saw “pristine” absentee ballots that appeared to have been marked by a computer and weren’t creased as they would have been if they had been put in envelopes. The investigators said they couldn’t find any such ballots.

The suit also renews debunked claims that election officials purposefully lied about stopping counting on election night, claiming that once observers left that election workers pulled out “suitcases” of ballots and counted the votes multiple times, effectively running up the score for Democrats.

Secretary of State investigators said they found no evidence this had happened, either, saying video showed the suitcases were normal ballot bins brought out when election workers were told to keep counting. Investigators said workers told them ballot scanners jammed frequently, requiring workers to make multiple attempts to scan ballots, and that scanner activity logs confirmed paper jams reported by workers and seen on video.

Investigators concluded, therefore, that there was no evidence to corroborate allegations in the lawsuit that election workers scanned and counted fraudulent ballots that had been hidden under tables at the arena. The brief notes that former U.S. Attorney BJay Pak reached the same conclusion based on statements made to the FBI and an independent review of the evidence.

Perdue’s opponents mocked the lawsuit.

“David Perdue is so concerned about election fraud that he waited a year to file a lawsuit that conveniently coincided with his disastrous campaign launch,” said Kemp spokesperson Cody Hall. “Keep in mind that lawsuit after lawsuit regarding the 2020 election was dismissed in part because Perdue declined to be listed as a plaintiff.”

Seth Bringman, a spokesperson for Abrams said that “while David Perdue conducts the conspiracy choir, Stacey will be focused on Georgians.”