ATLANTA (AP) – Georgia’s secretary of state is a man on an island, and the political flood is rising rapidly as President Donald Trump and his allies express outrage at fellow Republican over unsubstantiated allegations that mismanagement and fraud have tarnished the country’s presidential election. .
Trump spent the weekend attacking Brad Rafensperger on social media, at one point calling him a “so-called Republican (RINO),” short for “Republican by name.” Rafensperger retaliated, disputing Trump’s claims that he made it easier for Democrats to cheat with ballots in the mail. The secretary also called US envoy Doug Collins, who is leading Trump̵
The current battle is a switch for Raffensperger. The 65-year-old bespectacled engineer spent most of his first two years in office, suffering abuse from Democrats who filed lawsuits alleging that Georgia, under then-Secretary of State Brian Kemp, was involved in illegal repression. of voters in 2018. The Republican nominee, who narrowly won the governorship of Democrat Stacey Abrams this year, denies the allegations.
Also on Rafensperger’s lap was a revolving race to replace Georgia’s obsolete voting machines in time for 2020, a venture complicated by the coronavirus pandemic.
Through all of this, Rafensperger – currently in quarantine after his wife tested positive for COVID-19 – insists he is an impartial administrator of Georgia’s elections, with no desire or agenda to influence the outcome.
Trump and his allies have argued that Rafensperger has not done enough to eradicate “illegal” votes.
“The secretary of state has failed to hold fair and transparent elections,” GOP sensor David Purdue and Kelly Löfler said – both failed to win enough votes to avoid a run-off in January with their Democratic opponents, he said in a statement last week. to offer any evidence in support of their claim. “He has failed the people of Georgia and must withdraw immediately.”
Collins, responding to Rafensperger’s label as a “liar,” fired on Twitter on Monday: “In a year of political division in Georgia, few things have united Republicans and Democrats – one of them is Brad Rafensperger’s incompetence as secretary of state.”
Rafensperger tried to overcome the beating by appeasing Trump supporters. After Trump’s campaign called for a manual count of all 5 million votes cast in Georgia, Rafensperger chose the presidential election for an audit, which Georgian law now requires for one nationwide race for each election cycle. He also demanded that all votes – not just ballot sampling, as is the norm for audits – be reviewed and the calculation done by hand.
Without avoiding the fact that he is a Republican, Rafensperger has publicly stated that he wants to defeat Trump. But he also says he has seen no evidence of widespread fraud or voting irregularities – and that he expects Biden’s 14,000 votes to be retained once the audit is complete.
“We knew it was a stupid argument,” Rafensperger said of allegations of fraud in an interview with WDUN-AM radio on Monday. “But the hand count puts him to bed.”
The head of the election is largely left to fight alone.
The eight members of the House of Representatives of the American House of Commons from the Republican Party insist – again, without quoting evidence – the Secretary of State to investigate Trump’s allegations. Lt. Col. Jeff Duncan and House Speaker David Ralston are exceptions: They joined Kemp in the urgent investigation, but stopped attacking Rafensperger.
Several Republicans even publicly supported it.
“From what I’ve seen, there’s just no widespread fraud in the electoral process leading to the general election,” said Saxby Chamblis, a Georgian Republican who served two terms in the U.S. Senate.
Georgia has seen years of voting disputes before the loss of Abrams. While Republicans have recently identified Rafensperger as an enemy, some Democrats have been partially softened.
“I think he’s generally responding very well to changing election operations to accommodate the pandemic,” said David Worley, a former Democratic Party chairman in Georgia who is now a member of the state election commission. Worley said Rafensperger was a better manager and less addicted than Kemp as secretary of state.
Before winning a government office, Rafensperger made a fortune in engineering and won a 2011 city council election in the wealthy Atlanta suburb of Jones Creek.
“There is no hidden agenda,” said Ivan Figueroa, who was a board member with Rafensperger. “He speaks his mind correctly. You can trust what he says. “
In 2014, Rafensperger won the state legislature election. In 2018, when Kemp chose to run for governor, Rafensperger successfully ran to replace him, defeating US Democrat John Barrow.
Last December, Rafensperger angered Democrats, who are still contemplating the loss of Abrams, by clearing more than 300,000 voters under a Georgian law that removes residents from the lists if they do not vote within seven years or do not respond to contacts. A new law will extend the deadline to nine years.
Raffensperger’s biggest task is to launch a new voting system purchased by Dominion Voting Systems, which has 100 million touch screens. Dominion has been the subject of unsupported conspiracies by Trump and his supporters in recent days.
The new equipment received a major launch during the primary in June, which was tainted by hourly waiting, in part because the COVID-19 pandemic reduced the number of polling stations and workers.
Voting in November was smoother, with most people voting before election day after Rafensperger set up an online system for requesting ballots to be mailed.