Georgia's GOP House Speaker says vote-by-mail system would be 'devastating to Republicans'

Georgia state House Speaker David Ralston (R) is coming out against a recent effort taken by Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) to mail absentee ballot request forms to all voters in the state amid the coronavirus pandemic, saying the move could be “devastating” for Republican candidates. 

Last week, Raffensperger announced the state would be mailing absentee ballot request forms to its nearly 7 million voters “in an effort to allow as many Georgia voters as possible to exercise their right to vote without leaving their homes.”

The move came a week after the state postponed its presidential primary from March 24 until May 19, as officials nationwide have urged the public to stay indoors as much as possible and to avoid large gatherings in a bid to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. 

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During an interview released on Wednesday, Ralston was asked about concerns he had regarding Raffensperger’s move.

“Could it jeopardize Republican control the House and Senate in the state? Could it jeopardize, you know, other races up and down the ballot in 2020?" FetchYourNews host BKP asked the state leader.

Ralston said one of his main problems with the mass-scale voting effort was the possibility of fraud. He also pointed to concerns he thinks voters may have about “breaches of security systems and data systems.” 

“And then another concern,” Ralston said, “and this comes under the category of you can't ever do too much, because now I read that, you know, members of these groups are not just [concerned] with voting by mail but they want the state to give them a stamp.”

According to The Atlanta Journal Constitution, local Democrats have called on the government to cover the cost for postage to help some of those voting by mail.

“So, here, you know, the process keeps going up and up and up and so a multitude of reasons why vote by mail in my view is not acceptable,” Ralston went on, before adding “the president said it best, this will be extremely devastating to Republicans and conservatives in Georgia.” 

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Ralston was referring to comments Trump made earlier this week about the vote-by-mail proposal that was included in the original House version of the coronavirus relief legislation that was backed by Democrats.

"The things they had in there were crazy. They had things, levels of voting that if you ever agreed to, you would never have a Republican elected in this country again," Trump said in an interview on "Fox & Friends” on Monday. "They had things in there about election days and what you do and all sorts of drawbacks. They had things that were just totally crazy."

When discussing the vote-by-mail effort in Georgia, Ralston said, “This will be the first time we have had this and it's going to be every registered voter in Georgia.”

“Let me emphasize,” he continued. “Let me say that again, every registered voter is going to get one of these. Now, I ask you, because I know you keep up with this, what was the turnout in the primary back in to 2018 or 2016?”

“Was it 100 percent?” Ralston asked. “No. It’s way, way, way lower and so, you know, this is going to, this will certainly drive up turnout.”

“Yeah, we’ll be trying to explain why turnout was so high,” BKP responded, laughing. “I got it. I think I picked that one up.”

At an earlier point in the interview, when discussing the vote-by-mail effort in Georgia, Ralston said he thinks that it should instead be in the “purview of the legislative branch where members of the state House and state Senate” to “consider and debate and discuss and vet these things and then decide if that's going to be the policy of this state.” 

“But to simply have this become an administrative decision made apparently on the fly during this crisis, to me, is just a — is very, very unwise and it's poor policy,” he added.