Georgia governor again rejects lawmakers replacing electors

Politics

President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally for Senate Republican candidates, Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., and Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., at Valdosta Regional Airport, Saturday, Dec. 5, 2020, in Valdosta, Ga. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia’s governor is again telling lawmakers that he won’t call a special session to overturn Georgia’s election results and appoint 16 presidential electors who would support Republican President Donald Trump instead of Democratic president-elect Joe Biden.

Republican Brian Kemp issued a joint statement Sunday with Republican Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, saying it would violate state law for the General Assembly to name electors instead of following the current state law that calls for the governor to certify electors after results are certified.

“Any attempt by the legislature to retroactively change that process for the Nov. 3rd election would be unconstitutional and immediately enjoined by the courts, resulting in a long legal dispute and no short-term resolution,” the two said in their statement.

Trump and Kemp spoke by phone hours before Trump held a rally on Saturday in Valdosta. The president asked Kemp to order the legislative session and the governor refused. According to a tweet from the governor, Trump also asked him to order an audit of absentee ballots from the presidential race in his state. Kemp has said he can’t do that because he has no authority to interfere in the electoral process on Trump’s behalf.

Trump on Sunday tweeted more unproved allegations that Georgia’s election was fraudulent, blaming Kemp and Duncan for inaction.

“Has anyone informed the so-called (says he has no power to do anything!) Governor @BrianKempGA & his puppet Lt. Governor @GeoffDuncanGA, that they could easily solve this mess, & WIN. Signature verification & call a Special Session. So easy!”

Duncan and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger appeared on television Sunday to defend the integrity of the election.

“I’m proud that we’re able to look up after three recounts and watch and be able to see that this election was fair,” Duncan said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “Was it perfect? Absolutely not. I don’t know if any election was perfect in the history of this country.”

“Right now, we don’t see anything that would overturn the will of the people here in Georgia,” Raffensperger said on ABC.

Gabriel Sterling, who’s in charge of implementing Georgia’s voting system, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Trump is inciting unrest.

“The president’s statements are false. They’re disinformation. They are stoking anger and fear among his supporters. And hell, I voted for him. The situation’s getting much worse and it’s an environment that’s been built out over years,” Sterling said.

State lawmakers could call a special session on their own, but only if 60% of members in both houses of the General Assembly demanded a session in writing. That’s unlikely, especially because more than 40% of the current members of the state House are Democrats.

On Saturday, four Republican state senators including William Ligon of Brunswick, Greg Dolezal of Cumming, Brandon Beach of Alpharetta and Burt Jones of Jackson launched a written petition trying to collect the signatures to force a special session. All four attended Trump’s rally Saturday in Valdosta.

“I don’t believe that there’s the will in the General Assembly for a special session,” Raffensperger said. He said if lawmakers went ahead “they would be then nullifying the will of the people.”

Kemp and Duncan said that going to court is “the only viable — and quickest option” for people challenging the results of Georgia’s presidential balloting.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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