Georgia's Republican secretary of state is exemplifying what public service should look like
All eyes have been on Georgia since election night, as a once-red stronghold tipped blue in the presidential race—securing a solid electoral victory for Joe Biden—and resulted in two run-off elections in the U.S. Senate races. And as President Trump continues to rage against the results and insist on trying to find widespread fraud where there is none (as evidenced by his 1 and 25 record with lawsuits so far, with the one being a procedural issue and not evidence of fraud), all eyes have been on Georgia's vote recount.
So far, the recount effort had turned up some missing votes in Republican-led counties resulting from human error. Nothing even close enough to the 14,000 votes it would take to sway the election results and nothing proving fraud in any way, but that doesn't stop Trump and his base from trying to spin it that way.
Refreshingly, throughout all of this madness, Georgia's secretary of state Brad Raffensperger—a lifelong Republican who says he has never voted for a Democrat—has held his ground to keep Georgia's election integrity intact. In fact, as the official who oversees elections in the state, the mild-mannered secretary of state been standing up to those who would try to politicize his position from his own party for months.
According to a ProPublica report, the Trump campaign had offered him a position as an honorary co-chair of the campaign in Georgia in January, which Raffensperger declined. "It is our standard practice not to endorse any candidate," the deputy secretary of state wrote in response to the offer. "This policy is not directed at any specific candidate, but all candidates, as the Secretary oversees elections and the implementation of new voting machines here in Georgia."
The GOP then tried to get him to publicly support Trump. In fact, as ProPublica reports, senior Trump campaign adviser Billy Kirkland "burst uninvited into a meeting in Raffensperger's office in the late spring that was supposed to be about election procedures and demanded that the secretary of state endorse Trump, according to Raffensperger and two of his staffers." Raffensperger refused, on the belief that he should remain neutral as the official running the election.
Kirkland crashed another meeting prior to the June primary, again pressuring Raffensperger to endorse Trump. After reiterating that he would not do so as it would be a conflict of interest, Kirkland reportedly said, "We'll see how helpful you are in November," to Raffensperger's staffers before slamming the door behind him as he left.
And now, as Republican lawmakers in Georgia call for his resignation—over doubts about the election that they themselves are peddling—Raffensperger is unwavering in his dedication to do the job the people of Georgia elected him to do without putting his thumb on the scales for any side.
"I've always been a conservative Republican and I want to make sure we have a lawful process because I think integr… https://t.co/aROssfauJH— CBS This Morning (@CBS This Morning) 1605623269.0
But the pressure keeps coming.
In an incredibly alarming move, South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham reportedly phoned Raffensperger and asked him if there were a way for him to exclude all mail-in ballots cast in counties with high levels of signature discrepancies, which would include tossing out perfectly legal votes. Two of Raffensperger's aides who witnessed the call corroborated the nature of the call and were appalled by the request.
But still, Raffensperger is insistent upon the process playing out as it's supposed to. He ordered the recount and audit of the state elections. He is making sure that errors in counting—which happen in practically every single election—are rectified. He is fighting back against what he calls "clear retaliation" from the president for not publicly supporting him and from other members of his party who are trying to appease Trump.
"They thought Georgia was a layup shot Republican win," Raffensperger said, according to ProPublica. "It is not the job of the secretary of state's office to deliver a win — it is the sole responsibility of the Georgia Republican Party to get out the vote and get its voters to the polls. That is not the job of the secretary of state's office."
This is what public service should be—placing objectivity before partisan pressure and the good of the country before the good of the party. Thank you, Mr. Raffensperger for reminding us that integrity can and does exist in our political system.
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