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Federal judge throws out GOP Georgia lawsuit that aimed to remove absentee ballot drop boxes



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On the third day into early voting for Georgia’s side-by-side U.S. Senate runoff elections, a federal judge Thursday dismissed a case brought by Republicans that sought to scrap absentee ballot drop boxes, Fox News reports, saying that fraud concerns at this stage in the runoffs are “highly speculative.”

In the United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia, centered in Augusta, a federal judge dismissed the lawsuit brought by the 12th Congressional District Republican Committee. The plaintiffs had no standing, the judge said, and also saying that courts shouldn’t alter election rules so close to an election, according to Fox News.

Both of Georgia’s January 5 races are key to Democrats and Republicans post-2020 election political efforts. If Democrats sweep both seats, they would have 50 of the 100 seats in the Senate and have Vice President-elect Kamala Harris as the tie-breaking vote, which would make confirming President-elect Joe Biden‘s Cabinet nominees easier for them. On the other end, Republicans want to maintain their slim majority, fearing that Democratic victories in the Peach State could allow for Biden to successfully appoint officials farther to the left of the Democratic establishment.

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While absentee voting has been happening for a couple of weeks in the state, early in-person voting at polling stations commenced on Monday. More than 900,000 Georgians have already voted in the dual races, according to the state’s latest data, with 427,000 of those votes being cast through absentee ballots.

The thrown-out case alleged that procedures used to process absentee ballots during November’s general election–such as signature matching and ballot drop boxes–could open the door for widespread fraud in the runoffs, Fox News reports.

On top of that, the lawsuit also asked that local election officials be forbidden from opening ballot envelopes prior to January 5. Additionally, per Fox News, the suit also sought to discredit guidance from the Secretary of State’s Office on the correct way officials needed to verify signatures on absentee ballots.

Chief Judge Randall Hall, who was nominated to the federal bench by Republican President George W. Bush, found the plaintiff’s allegations of voter fraud “highly speculative.”

“I have real concerns about whether this court […]should even entertain this action at this point,” said Hall. “[…]Fraud concerns at this stage are all highly speculative.”

“We are not even on the eve of an election,” Hall said in striking down the case. “We are, as it relates to this particular election, closing in on halftime.”

This case is the latest in a series of failed attempts from Republicans to challenge the election results and rules in key swing states after November 3. Despite a massive but doomed lawsuit being thrown out of the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday and the Electoral College officially elected Biden to be the next president, President Donald Trump refuses to concede and continues to allege that widespread election fraud occurred, repeatedly claiming that the election was stolen.

RELATED: McConnell congratulates Biden on election victory, draws criticism from some conservatives

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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Elizabeth Warren Acknowledges Unintended Consequences of Obamacare



Elizabeth Warren

Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a longtime supporter of the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, is now acknowledging the unintended consequences of the healthcare legislation, particularly its impact on industry consolidation and rising healthcare prices.

Warren, who has been a vocal proponent of Obamacare, has recently had what the Wall Street Journal reported as an “epiphany” regarding the consequences of the healthcare law. In a letter addressed to the Health and Human Services Department inspector general, Warren, along with Senator Mike Braun of Indiana, expressed concerns about vertically-integrated healthcare companies potentially increasing prescription drug costs and evading federal regulations.

According to reports from Fox News, the bipartisan letter highlighted issues with the nation’s largest health insurers allegedly bypassing Obamacare’s medical loss ratio (MLR). According to Warren, these insurers, through vertical integration, have manipulated the system, leading to “sky-high prescription drug costs and excessive corporate profits.”

The senators detailed how conglomerates, like UnitedHealth Group, with ownership across various healthcare sectors, could inflate medical payments to pharmacies and, by realizing those payments on the pharmacy side, appear to comply with MLR requirements while retaining more profits.

Moreover, despite the Democrats’ argument that the MLR would benefit patients, it has incentivized insurers to merge with or acquire pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), retail and specialty pharmacies, and healthcare providers. This, in turn, has made healthcare spending less transparent, as insurers can allegedly shift profits to their affiliates by increasing reimbursements.

Warren, who has consistently voted against Obamacare repeal efforts, notably advocated for a “Medicare for All” proposal during her 2020 presidential campaign. Despite her prior support for the healthcare law, Warren’s recent concerns about its unintended consequences have raised questions about the long-term effects of Obamacare and its impact on the healthcare industry.

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