Georgia Republican David Perdue, whose run for governor launched this week featuring lies about the 2020 election, has filed a lawsuit that recycles claims of fraud already disproven by investigators and rejected by the courts.

Website for Georgia Public Broadcasting
This story also appeared in Georgia Public Broadcasting

In a Friday filing, the former U.S. senator and a Georgia voter claim that thousands of “unlawfully marked” absentee ballots were counted in Fulton County's presidential election, despite three separate counts of the results and no evidence of so-called “counterfeit” ballots included in the vote totals.

The lawsuit repeats claims of “pristine” ballots observed by a Republican monitor that investigators could not corroborate, includes debunked claims about ballots counted at State Farm Arena on election night and demands an inspection of absentee by mail ballots, after a Henry County judge dismissed a similar suit in October.

“You can't look forward without learning from the past; that's what I've been saying since November,” Perdue said on Fetch Your News on Friday morning, discussing the suit before it was filed. “Look, I'm not trying to relitigate the 2020 election, but what I am trying to do is find the people who broke the law and bring them to justice. That's why I went to court in November. That's why I'm going to court now.”

Perdue, who lost a January runoff to Sen. Jon Ossoff, was party to unsuccessful lawsuits that tried to change absentee signature matching rules for the runoff and segregate votes cast by newly registered voters since the general election.

The legal challenge also wants the court to fire any employees that committed or knew about alleged fraud — something a judge would be unlikely to do — and to command Fulton to “certify the correct vote total to the Secretary of State,” which is impossible to do since the election is already certified.

Other claims made in the suit rehash arguments that have been made and fact-checked for months, including most recently in a lawsuit filed by election conspiracist Garland Favorito that was dismissed in October.

State investigators found no evidence to support GOP poll monitor and 6th Congressional District candidate Suzi Voyles' claim that batches of pristine ballots were included in the totals for Fulton County's election results.

Similarly, claims that batches of absentee ballots were scanned multiple times were investigated and found not to be true. The number of absentee by mail ballots counted in the election generally matches the number of voters who were given credit for voting by mail and the number of people in the absentee voter file listed as returning an absentee ballot.

Video of counting at State Farm Arena does show election workers passing stacks of ballots through scanners multiple times, but elections officials have explained that batches must be re-entered if there is a problem with how one is scanned.

In a Jan. 4 press conference, Gabriel Sterling with the Secretary of State's office explained what was seen on video was normal ballot processing.

“If there was a problem with a ballot, what it does is it stops, but before that, four or five will get through,” he said. “So they delete that last batch and rescan it so they scan properly. That is the normal process that is done.”

Elizabeth Grace Lennon, the second plaintiff in the suit, said that when she voted in person, a poll worker told her she requested an absentee ballot and had to sign an affidavit canceling the request and vote on a provisional ballot. But Lennon told a Georgia Senate committee that she was given a voter access card and she voted on a ballot-marking device.

Lennon claims someone voted the absentee ballot fraudulently in her name, but election records show that is not the case.

Georgia's absentee voter file indicates someone entered a request for an absentee by mail ballot attached to Lennon's name on October 7, but shows it was canceled. Georgia's voter history file shows Lennon was given credit for voting in the November 2020 election, and for voting absentee. But “absentee” in Georgia includes both early in person and absentee by mail, so the credit on her voter history report would reflect her voting in person and the election system working as intended.

This lawsuit, more than 13 months after the presidential election, is the latest in a concerted effort by former President Donald Trump and his supporters to overturn his narrow defeat in Georgia and undermine faith in the election system.

Perdue's campaign to primary Gov. Brian Kemp comes with Trump's endorsement and encouragement after Kemp certified the election results that saw President Joe Biden win the state. Kemp spokesman Cody Hall blasted Perdue for the timing and message of 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,” Hall said. “Keep in mind that lawsuit after lawsuit regarding the 2020 election was dismissed in part because Perdue declined to be listed as a plaintiff. Instead of hiding for months from the fight to secure the ballot box - which Governor Kemp led - maybe next time Perdue should cancel his tee time.”

Despite claims Perdue and others have made about the potential for fraud with absentee ballots, records show Perdue voted by mail in the November 2020 election and has consistently voted absentee by mail in previous elections.

This story comes to Stanley R. Boxer through a reporting partnership with GPB News, a non-profit newsroom covering the state of Georgia.

Stephen Fowler is political reporter for Georgia Public Broadcasting.