Well, isn't this just peachy. As Georgia keeps counting votes and the country waits patiently (ish) for the official result, a dramatic political theater scene is playing out in the suddenly-a-swing state.
This morning, the state's two Republican U.S. senators, David Perdue and Kelley Loeffler, issued a statement calling for the Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to resign. Raffensperger, who is also a Republican, is in charge of the state elections that currently show Biden in the lead by more than 10,000 votes.
This is absolutely bonkers. Georgia's two Republican U.S. Senators are calling on the Republican Secretary of Sta… https://t.co/16OcXpVO2J— stephen fowler covers Georgia's election! (@stephen fowler covers Georgia's election!) 1604952660.0
The statement by Perdue and Loeffler reads:
"The management of Georgia elections has become an embarrassment for our state. Georgians are outraged, and rightly so. We have been clear from the beginning: every legal vote cast should be counted. Any illegal vote must not. And there must be transparency and uniformity in the counting process. This isn't hard. This isn't partisan. This is American. We believe when there are failures, they need to be called out—even when it's in your own party. There have been too many failures in Georgia elections this year and the most recent election has shined a national light on the problems. While blame certainly lies elsewhere as well, the buck ultimately stops with the Secretary of State. The mismanagement and lack of transparency from the Secretary of State is unacceptable. Honest elections are paramount to the foundation of our democracy. The Secretary of State has failed to deliver honest and transparent elections. He has failed the people of Georgia, and he should step down immediately."
The senators provided no evidence for any of their claims. Both senators are currently facing run-off elections in January because neither managed to win 50% of the votes for their seats.
Stephen Fowler, who covers Georgia's elections for Georgia Public Broadcasting, wrote on Twitter, "I've seen a lot in my two years of covering Georgia elections but I never thought that I'd see an evidence-free assault on one of the most transparently-run elections in recent memory—with few reported issues—from two U.S. Senators."
Raffensperger, for his part, isn't having it.
The Secretary of State fired back with his own statement, filled with much more detail about the election process and making it clear that he would not be leaving his position until the voters themselves removed him.
Raffensperger's statement reads:
"Earlier today Senators Loeffler and Perdue called for my resignation.
Let me start by saying that is not going to happen. The voters of Georgia hired me, and the voters will be the one to fire me. As Secretary of State, I'll continue to fight every day to ensure fair elections in Georgia, that every legal vote counts, and that illegal votes don't count.
I know emotions are running high. Politics are involved in everything right now. If I was Senator Perdue, I'd be irritated I was in a runoff. And both Senators and I are all unhappy with the potential outcome for our President.
But I am the duly elected Secretary of State. One of my duties involves helping to run elections for all Georgia voters. I have taken that oath, and I will execute that duty and follow Georgia law.
Here are the facts.
The election on Tuesday, November 3, 2020 in Georgia, from an election administration perspective was a resounding success. The average wait time to vote was 3 minutes. Almost 5 million Georgians cast a vote in this election…that is a record turnout. Nearly 75% of Georgia voters voted in person, while 25% to vote no-excuse absentee. That no-excuse absentee law was adopted by a Republican legislature, supported by Speaker David Ralston, and signed into law by then-Governor Sonny Perdue.
President Trump received more votes than any other Republican presidential candidate in Georgia history, and Senator Perdue received more votes than the President.
The process of reporting results has been orderly and followed the law. Where there have been specific allegations of illegal voting, my office has dispatched investigators. We have put a monitor in at Fulton County…one of our longtime problem Democrat-run counties.
The investigation of potential double voters was the first of its kind done in the history of the Secretary of State's office, and we will investigate any of those instances from the general election as well.
I care about counting each and every legal vote…and assuring that illegal votes aren't counted.
And as far as lack of transparency…we were literally putting releases of results up at a minimum hourly. I and my office have been holding daily or twice-daily briefings for the press to walk them through all the numbers. So that particular charge is laughable.
Was there illegal voting? I am sure there was. And my office is investigating all of it. Does it rise to the numbers or margin necessary to change the outcome to where President Trump is given Georgia's electoral votes? That is unlikely.
One thing I have learned in my time as Secretary of State is that a lot of difficulties in administering elections are caused by federal law. Federal law, not state law, is what makes it so difficult to keep clean voter rolls. Federal law, not state law, is what allows people to register to vote before a runoff even if they weren't registered for the general election. Now that Senators Perdue and Loeffler are concerned about elections, hopefully they can fix these federal laws.
My job is to follow Georgia law and see to it that all legal votes, and no illegal votes, are counted properly and accurately. As Secretary of State, that is my duty, and I will continue to do my duty. As a Republican, I am concerned about Republicans keeping the U.S. Senate. I recommend that Senators Loeffler and Perdue start focusing on that."
Raffensperger's statement makes it clear that Trump's claims about the Georgia election are baseless. It's also reassuring to those of us who want some assurance that not all Trump supporters are out of their everlovin' minds or have fallen down the conspiracy theory hole.
For those claiming that somehow Georgia election officials are trying to “steal” the election for Joe Biden - I’d j… https://t.co/pVJKPn5hTx— Justin Gray (@Justin Gray) 1604600404.0
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