President Donald Trump took some time on the first day of the year to make baseless claims about the integrity of Georgia’s electoral system in a move that will no doubt concern Republicans who are trying to get voters to turn out for the runoff elections Tuesday that will decide which party controls the Senate. Trump tweeted that next week’s Georgia runoff elections are “both illegal and invalid” mere days before he is scheduled to go to the state to campaign for the Republican candidates.
Trump began his series of Jan. 1 tweets by once again baselessly claiming there was “massive corruption” in the November election and he actually received “far more votes than is necessary to win all of the Swing States.” The president went on to specifically mention Georgia and its consent decree, which he decried as “unconstitutional.” That decree meant that the state’s two Senate races, as well as his loss to President-elect Joe Biden, were not valid, he said. The decree Trump is referring to was agreed to between Democrats and Republicans in the state to come up with a way to allow voters to fix absentee ballots that have a problem with their signature. Trump and his allies have repeatedly argued the decree was illegal because state legislatures are the ones that have the power to regulate congressional elections. But many have pointed out that the Supreme Court has made clear that legislatures can hand that power over to state officials.
Trump’s latest tweets come amid concerns by Republican leaders that the president’s repeated attacks on the voting system could end up depressing turnout in the critical Georgia runoffs. The questions about the integrity of the election may help explain why it seems that Democrats far outpaced Republicans in early voting in the state. A record three million voters in Georgia cast their ballots early for the runoffs. The early voting period ended Thursday and no votes will be counted until polls close Tuesday but data shows more votes were cast in areas that tend to favor Democrats. That means Republicans need to come out in large numbers on the day of the election in order make up the difference.
Beyond his attacks on the integrity of the elections, Trump has also been blasting Republican leaders, a move that has also concerned many in the GOP who worry that frustrated allies of the president may decide to skip the runoffs entirely. In a another tweet Friday, Trump called Republican Senate leaders “pathetic” for not coming through on $2,000 stimulus checks and failing to repeal legal protections for social media companies.