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Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgia Secretary of State Speaks on Future of Election Security in America

@gupolitics | Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger spoke to the Georgetown community about trust in elections and the outcome of presidential elections in an event hosted by the McCourt School Institute of Politics and Public Service on Feb. 7.

Brad Raffensperger, the Republican secretary of state of Georgia, spoke about his experience overseeing presidential elections and his predictions for the future of U.S. politics at a Feb. 7 event. 

The event, titled “Trust in Elections,” was hosted by the Georgetown Institute of Politics and Public Service (GU Politics) and featured a moderated discussion about Raffensperger’s work to ensure election accuracy in Georgia. Raffensperger garnered national attention in the wake of the 2020 election after refusing former President Donald Trump’s orders to overturn Georgia’s election results.

Since the 2020 election, Raffensperger has worked to improve election administration, security and access at a time when Republican voters are concerned about the validity of voter counts. Raffensperger said this public mistrust in elections is a threat to American democracy. 

“Trust is the gold standard of this work,” Raffensperger said at the event. “Accessibility with security, building trust — I think that’s what really pulls our social fabric back together.”

Raffensperger discussed Trump’s requests to overturn President Joe Biden’s win in Georgia. On Jan. 2, 2021, Trump called Raffensperger and asked him to find 11,780 votes to overturn Biden’s win in Georgia. 

Raffensperger said he knew the call with Trump would be significant within the context of the 2020 election and Biden’s 0.23% margin of victory against Trump. 

“It wasn’t something I was looking forward to,” Raffensperger said. “Somewhere, the hopeful part of me said, if I have this call with the president and give the data, he’d say, ‘Oh, that’s why I came up short.’”

Raffensperger said the Trump administration’s concerns over voter fraud were unfounded, with Trump supporters claiming widespread underage voting during the election. 

“I believe that fraud, nationwide, is not as large as people think it is,” Raffensperger said. “There weren’t 66,000 underage voters. There were zero. There weren’t thousands of felons. There was less than 74.”

Raffensperger said he believed the COVID-19 pandemic and the laborious process of verifying absentee ballots caused major disruptions, which led to the rise of election-denying conspiracy theories in 2020. 

“Time is not your friend in the election space,” Raffensperger said.

Raffensberger said Trump and his allies also tried to rile Republican voters into protesting election results with lies about illegal voting, while Raffensperger’s team tried to lead with facts.

“They just kept on doubling down, doubling down and all they really were doing was just stirring up people and creating all this anger that somehow something could happen,” Raffensperger said. “We just continued to go out there and talk to people and let them know this is what happened.”

Since 2020, Georgia has changed its laws, aiming to improve election security by requiring photo ID for absentee mail-in voting, checking citizenship and updating voter rolls. 

Raffensperger said these laws will increase voters’ confidence in election security.

“We think that having photo ID gives all of you confidence,” Raffensperger said. “We’re trying to elevate confidence, and photo ID builds trust. Accuracy will never be closer.”

Other law changes included instituting no-excuse absentee voting, early voting and election day voting, which Raffensperger said would increase voting accessibility, another of his chief goals.

“We give the voters an option, which we think is a good thing, but it also gives the county election officials a pressure relief valve,” Raffensperger said.

Raffensperger said that if the Trump campaign team wins the upcoming election, in Georgia or nationwide, he would remain confident in the election system. 

“If they win, they will win fair and square, and if they lose, they’ll lose fair and square,” Raffensperger said.“It’s as simple as that.”

Raffensperger said he will work to continue encouraging trust in elections and creating secure elections in Georgia.

“I will continue to be the person I’ve been,” Raffensperger said. “I’ll continue to talk respectfully, with the facts. And I’m going to do what I need to do, which is follow the law and follow the Constitution.”

Raffensperger said fidelity to the Constitution is a civic duty.

“People have fought and died for our freedom,” Raffensperger said. “Honor their sacrifice by just doing your job. At the end of the day, the beautiful thing is when you do your job, you will be able to look in the mirror at yourself for the rest of your life because you know you’ve done the right thing.”

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