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Well-known Atlanta attorney's push to halt Georgia election certification stopped by judge

A judge's denial of a temporary restraining order regarding the certification was day before votes were officially certified in the state.

ATLANTA — A highly-publicized attempt to halt the certification of Georgia's election results has met its end at the hands of a federal judge.

U.S. District Court Judge Steven D. Grimberg, on Thursday, denied two motions for a temporary restraining order to prevent the process from moving forward, filed by attorney Lin Wood.

The court defeat is one multiple now arising across the country as Donald Trump and administration surrogates push to nullify the results of what they consider an unfair election.

Wood, who filed suit against Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger through his own attorney, Ray S. Smith III, called into question multiple actions he believed undermined the integrity of the election.

Wood claimed, in his lawsuit, that a policy to require three sets of eyes on any questionable signature was unilaterally approved by Raffensperger and should have been the decision of the state legislature. He called the decision a violation of the state constitution and a burden on local elections offices.

That burden, the lawsuit stated, also made it less likely that local offices would follow the more involved procedure resulting in bad ballots being cast in the election.

Wood also took issue with how the additional measures were added - as a result of a settlement with the Democratic party over previous election lawsuits.

On the same day Wood publicly shared the lawsuit online, the Secretary of State's Office responded, calling the accusation a "silly baseless claim." 

"Signature match is intact and the General Assembly passed legislation to allow voters who failed to include a signature time to add one," Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said. "Fulton County only had one rejected ballot in 2018 and now they have thousands. We strengthened signature match, and will continue to do so, period.” 

Meanwhile, the voting systems implementation manager for the Secretary of State's Office, Gabriel Sterling, also took issue with the allegations that Raffensperger changed the law illegally.

"The consent decree - he's just wrong, he's just flat out, 100 percent four square wrong, " Sterling said. "The consent decree literally – all we did was send out an 'official election bulletin,' telling people, 'hey follow our rules and how we already do signature match.'"

He argued the only substantive change in policy - a policy subject to the discretion of the Secretary of State's Office - was how people should be given notice if their ballot was rejected.

It was changed to give them notice within 24 hours if that ballot was rejected within 11 days of the election.

But a follow-up to the request for action came on Tuesday suggesting that a manual recount had issues as well. Republican monitors claimed that, in one case, the process had been completed before they arrived and, in another, that they believed the ballots were machine counted instead of being checked individually by hand. 

In all, the updated request to halt the certification claimed that monitors were "denied the opportunity to observe the Hand Recount in any meaningful way." It then requested that the recount be redone in accordance with the Georgia election code and in a way that Republican monitors would be allowed to watch.

On Thursday, Judge Grimberg met for three hours with several attorneys representing several parties, including Raffensperger, the NAACP, the Democratic Party of Georgia, the Georgia Coalition for the Peoples' Agenda, and Wood.

A motion to intervene on behalf of the Democratic Party was granted and two motions calling for the temporary restraining order were denied.

Just short of 24 hours later, the election was certified by Raffensperger and formalized by Gov. Brian Kemp. Kemp did, however, call attention to a handful of counties where issues were found and the reaction he had received from "countless Georgians." He also demanded complete explanations for all discrepancies found moving forward.

"They expect better, and they deserve better," he said.

Additionally, Kemp expressed his support for strengthening voter identification requirements and making them part of the mail-in balloting process. He added that he also wanted Raffensperger to look into a specific issue regarding signatures moving forward.

"It’s important to note that this audit only looked at ballots, not the signatures on the absentee applications or the signatures on the ballot envelopes," he said. The Georgians I have heard from are extremely concerned about this, so I encourage Secretary Raffensperger to consider addressing these concerns."