He Fought Trump’s 2020 Lies. He Also Backs New Scrutiny of Ballots.

Brad Raffensperger, the Republican secretary of state in Georgia, earned widespread reward for his staunch protection of the election leads to his state final 12 months within the face of rising threats and stress from former President Donald J. Trump.

As Mr. Trump unfold falsehoods concerning the election, Mr. Raffensperger vocally debunked them, culminating in a 10-page letter addressed to Congress on Jan. 6, the day of the Capitol riot, through which he refuted, level by level, Mr. Trump’s false claims about election fraud in Georgia.

But after a Georgia choose dominated late final week {that a} group of voters must be allowed to view copies of all 147,000 absentee ballots forged within the state’s largest county, in yet one more disinformation-driven marketing campaign, Mr. Raffensperger voiced his help for the trouble, saying that inspecting the ballots would offer “another layer of transparency and citizen engagement.”

As Mr. Trump’s election falsehoods proceed to carry sway over many lawmakers and voters, with efforts to evaluation ballots nonetheless underway in states throughout the nation, we spoke with Mr. Raffensperger about why he supported the brand new evaluation ordered by the choose and the way he thinks about public belief, or distrust, within the electoral course of. The interview has been evenly edited and condensed.

At the danger of asking you to repeat your self: Was there any widespread fraud in Georgia within the 2020 election?

No, there was no widespread fraud. We had, and we nonetheless do have, a number of hundred investigations that we’ve opened up. Many of these are procedural, however none can be vital sufficient to overturn the election outcomes.

So why help this most up-to-date order to examine ballots?

So from Day 1, I’ve inspired Georgians who’ve considerations concerning the elections of their counties to pursue these claims by authorized avenues. Frankly, Fulton County has a longstanding historical past of election mismanagement that has weakened voter religion within the system.

And I’m very grateful that S.B. 202 [the state’s new voting law] strengthens the flexibility of the secretary of state’s workplace to carry counties accountable. I believe that’s a superb factor.

But in a letter you wrote to Congress in January, you refuted the false allegations relating to absentee ballots in Fulton County, practically the exact same claims which are a component of this lawsuit that led to the choose’s order. So what has modified?

Unfortunately, the No. 1 situation that we’re going through proper now in elections nationwide is voter confidence. Now, in Georgia, it goes again to the 2018 governor’s race, when Stacey Abrams did not concede, after which in 2016, days after President Trump gained, the opposite camp talks about Russian collusion. And so we had these aspersions forged on Trump’s victory.

But what occurs every time is that voter confidence takes successful. So at any time when we are able to restore, or have a course of that may assist restore, voter confidence, I believe that’s a superb factor — if in case you have an open and clear course of through which everybody can objectively agree that that is due course of that they’re doing, that they’re ensuring they’re following the regulation.

At the top of the day, they’re going to get the identical outcomes we obtained after November. And then we are able to hopefully put this to mattress.

So despite the fact that you understand that the allegations on this most up-to-date lawsuit aren’t going to return to fruition, going by one other public course of will assist construct confidence?

It’s actually the method of civic engagement. Let the residents have an open, clear course of through which different units of eyeballs can confirm what’s already been verified.

We’ve already achieved a 100 % hand recount of each single absentee poll, each single early-vote poll and each date-of-election poll. So all three varieties of voting have been counted in Georgia. Every single one of these paper ballots has been hand-counted.

So I do know the outcomes aren’t going to alter, nevertheless it simply helps improve voter confidence and it helps our whole nation to maneuver off this situation and actually get again to a extra steady society.

Democrats and voting rights teams have stated that these repeated recounts and relitigations of the 2020 presidential contest truly undermine confidence within the election. So I’m questioning the way you weigh that.

Well, on the finish of the day, a Superior Court choose makes a ruling, and we comply with the regulation in Georgia.

Many Republican voters, and particularly former President Donald Trump, have continued to reject the a number of audits and recounts already carried out in Georgia and demand new investigations. What makes you suppose this Fulton County inspection will fulfill those that declare that there was widespread fraud?

Well, let’s comply with this rabbit path, and get the solutions, after which we’ll get solutions that might be similar to what we had again when this election was carried out and we did the audit course of. And we are able to put this to relaxation and we are able to transfer ahead.

Georgia’s new voting regulation provides extra energy over elections to state lawmakers. Do you may have any worries that this new inspection of ballots may immediate the Legislature to exert much more management over election administration?

All Georgians ought to take nice consolation on the finish of the day that now we have a good election course of. We have 159 counties which are operating these elections, now we have 159 county election administrators who’ve private integrity. People want to grasp that the people who find themselves operating these elections on the precinct stage — these are your folks, these are your neighbors, these are your folks at church, these are your folks from Pilates, Rotary. Your children could possibly be on the identical youth league baseball or soccer group.

The glue that holds the method collectively is the person private integrity of native Georgians, plus our workplace, and what I’ll stand for is honest and sincere elections.

I needed to ask you somewhat bit about your re-election bid subsequent 12 months. You’re operating towards Representative Jody Hice, a Republican congressman whom Mr. Trump has endorsed. Are you fearful about Donald Trump attacking you and actively working to make sure your defeat?

No. We’re going to run our marketing campaign on points. At the top of the day, we imagine that integrity counts. And we’ve achieved an terrible lot to enhance the election course of in Georgia.

The very first thing we did was go House Bill 316, which allowed us to obtain new voting machines that use verifiable paper ballots. For 18 years, folks had been speaking about needing a system with paper ballots; I achieved that.

Also, we made progress towards becoming a member of the Electronic Registration Information Center [a nonpartisan, nonprofit multistate voter roll database]. So as we up to date our voter rolls, we may do it objectively. We additionally outlawed poll harvesting. So we’ve been engaged on election integrity for a very long time.

Congressman Hice, although, he’s been up in D.C. for over six years, and he has by no means launched a single piece of electoral reform laws. He’s by no means achieved something on election integrity, ever. And now he thinks it’s someway an attention-grabbing situation for him to run on? That’s the problem generally with congressmen. Some of them don’t do a lot once they rise up there.

One of the issues Mr. Hice did do was vote in Congress to overturn the election outcomes. Do you may have any concern that somebody who had beforehand taken steps to overturn a free and honest election may at some point run elections in Georgia?

Well, for those who’re sincere with your self, he’s a double-minded particular person. In Georgia, he accepted the outcomes for his race, however he didn’t settle for the outcomes for President Trump’s race. How are you able to maintain two opposing views at one time? So he’s going to should dwell along with his vote on Jan. 6.

Echoing Mr. Trump’s election lies has virtually turn into a litmus take a look at in Republican primaries. How do you run on this surroundings?

I’m going to run on integrity, and I’m going to run on the reality.

When was the final time you spoke with Mr. Trump? Was it the call in January in which he urged you to “find” him votes that turned public quickly afterward?


Have any of his allies contacted you or different Republicans in Georgia in the previous couple of months to induce you to conduct a recount or evaluation along the lines of Arizona’s?

Not that I’m conscious of.

OK. Last query. We spent lots of time earlier speaking about how religion in elections is broken. How do you suppose we restore bipartisan, nationwide religion in elections?

I believe maybe we have to have a nationwide dialogue, or a bipartisan assembly of the minds. Because S. 1 and H.R. 1 [two versions of congressional Democrats’ major voting rights bill] are a top-down, federal takeover of elections, and of course you’re going to see pushback from the Republicans, and rightly so. And I’ve spoken out towards these.

We really want to have a look at what can we accomplish that makes positive that we restore the belief of all voters from either side of the aisle, make it possible for now we have sincere and honest elections, that outcomes are correct.

Candidates want to grasp their job is to end up voters, and in the event that they don’t end up sufficient voters, they may lose the election, and so they have to just accept the need of the folks.

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