Georgian Foreign Secretary Brad Raffensperger received high praise for resolutely rejecting former President Donald Trump’s false claims about election fraud. But now that these allegations have resulted in tighter voting, the Republican civil servant is taking a softer approach. Brynn Anderson / AP hide caption
Brynn Anderson / AP
Brynn Anderson / AP
In January, Brad Raffensperger stood firm under pressure from then-President Donald Trump to overthrow what he called a fraudulent election for no reason. The Georgian Foreign Minister insisted that the 2020 elections in the state were fair and safe and that there was no evidence of bad game to support the former president’s claims.
Now that he is using his support for the state’s new electoral law, Raffensperger apparently sees room for necessary improvements in securing elections. Faced with democratic and corporate criticism, he joined fellow Republicans, including Governor Brian Kemp, in defending the measure as a general boost to electoral integrity.
In an interview with NPR’s All Things Considered earlier this week, Raffensperger praised the parts of the law that add new ID requirements for postal voting, expanded access to early face-to-face voting, shorter expiration times, and shorter waiting times.
All four of these changes, he said, “are positive, solid and measured electoral reforms.”
“It is really something that is a very broad, unified process that I believe will ensure that we have faster drains and that we have very objective measures for absentee voting to identify those voters so that it can be restored.” Trust, “said Raffensperger.
The law is met with backlash from Democrats and voting proxies, who argue that it restricts postal voting and disproportionately harms color communities.
Some of the state’s largest corporations, including Coca-Cola and Delta Airlines, have criticized the law while Major League Baseball pulled its all-star game out of Atlanta as a result.
President Biden described the bill as “Jim Crow in the twenty-first century” and compared it to a number of tactics once used to disenfranchise black people in the South.
In the NPR interview, Raffensperger denied these claims, saying, “It is extremely unfortunate and uncomfortable” for people to put the law in this way.
“If you look at our early voting period, it is now expanding to 17 days, which is mandatory for every county in our state, and then optionally two days of Sunday voting during the early voting period,” he said.
Democrats also see the reforms as an unnecessary response to last year’s record turnout, in which 1.3 million postal ballots were cast. The election of two State Democrats to the US Senate, Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, gave the party control of the chamber.
Raffensperger sees the new electoral law less as a hasty retaliation after the elections and more as a question of the timing.
“We have [a legislative] Meeting in Georgia that begins the second week of January, “he said.” It seems to be quick, but … all of the bills you have, including the budget, will be taken care of in this 40 day session. “
Raffensperger has a problem with the new law.
The measure imposes a number of limits on his office. It removes the foreign minister as chairman of the Georgian state electoral committee so that the republican majority board can temporarily take over the local electoral offices. Even the secretary can no longer send absentee ballots to all voters, as Raffensperger did last summer.
He calls the change to remove him from the board “myopic”.
“I am an elected official. Regardless of what decisions I make as the chairman of the state electoral committee, I will be held accountable to the voter. Now you have an unelected board, and that unelected board is only accountable to the general assembly.” said. “You will never be able to hold anyone accountable. Everyone will point their fingers at each other. So I did not support that.”
Even so, he is optimistic about what he sees as a series of general improvements.
“Also, for the first time in state law, we’ve now allowed mailboxes for postal voting,” he said. “So that’s another good measure.”
Dropboxes weren’t used in the state until the 2020 elections when they were introduced as an emergency measure during the pandemic. However, the new law significantly limits the number of ballot boxes compared to the previous year.
Democrats say the contraction is disproportionately affecting urban areas. For example, Fulton County – Georgia’s most populous county and home to much of Atlanta – will only have eight drop boxes, compared to 38 boxes in November.
Raffensperger, however, denies that “every county is treated equally” as that number is based on a rule of one box per 100,000 active registered voters in the county.
Becky Sullivan and Justine Kenin produced and edited this interview for broadcast.