Cooper: The outcomes of the Georgia Secretary of State election may have wider ramifications

Our friends across the state line from Tennessee in Georgia pretty much have the Republican primary brew. And we’re not talking about the governor’s race.

No, in the Peach State, one of the top races being played on May 24th is the GOP primary for Secretary of State, which is not an elected office in the Volunteer State.

The man whose fate is at stake is Brad Raffensperger, the acting secretary of state who became then-President Donald Trump’s public enemy No. 1 when he refused to overturn the 2020 Georgia election results over alleged voting irregularities.

Among other things, his critics say that his decision to send ballot-by-mail applications to all active voters and allow the use of mail-in ballot boxes for the first time encouraged a degree of illegal voting — enough to swing Georgia into the Biden column.

Raffensperger, for his part, can refer to three counts of votes, including a manual count, which certifies the victory of the current president.

Muddying the water is the latest release of conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza’s new documentary 2000 Mules, which alleges mass mail-in voting fraud across the country. His premise is that 2,000 people or mules in five states collected and delivered mail-in ballots in a practice known as “ballot harvesting.”

When collecting ballots, no one can know for sure who filled it out as long as the properly mailed ballot is returned and verified.

“2000 Mules” claims that 242 people in Atlanta were among the mules.

Georgian law prohibits voters from casting the ballot of anyone other than their own or that of a family member or caregiver of a disabled person.

(READ MORE: Georgia election chief targets noncitizen voting in re-election campaign, though he says it’s not a problem in the state.)

Raffensperger said in a recent debate his office examined video in the film showing a Gwinnett County man placing ballots in a mailbox and found that the man only delivers ballots for members of his family.

We offer no full-bodied defense or blame on the Secretary of State in the 2000 election campaign, but we can emphatically state that not enough voter fraud was found across the country to change the outcome of the election.

Nevertheless, Raffensperger urges voters to look elsewhere.

They should worry about illegal immigrant voters, he says.

When illegal immigrant voters cast their ballots in Georgia, Raffensperger rightly makes the issue a central theme of his election campaign. But he admits they are not.

In fact, his office has caught more than 1,600 illegals trying to register to vote over the past 25 years, but none have done so successfully. Still, he says, the state needs a constitutional amendment that says non-citizens can’t vote. It doesn’t matter that a state law already says so.

Raffensperger’s tactic is simply bait and switch, say his three opponents. Don’t look too closely at what happened in the 2000 election; Here’s a look at what could happen if all those people pouring across the southern border come to Georgia and try to vote.

One of those opponents, US Rep. Jody Hice, is Trump’s choice for office because, well, someone has to take down the guy who took down Trump.

Raffensperger is trying to convince Georgia voters of something that even the Republican-dominated legislature wasn’t interested in doing. A law that would have passed a constitutional amendment that would ban noncitizens from voting failed in the Georgia General Assembly this year.

(READ MORE: Northwest Georgia District Attorney Requests More Information on Prosecuting Non-Citizen Registration Cases)

Such is politics today in the Peach State, which not only ran for Biden in 2000 but elected two Democratic US Senators in a runoff two months later. That has made it ground zero for Trump ever since.

Not only does he back Hice, one of Raffensperger’s three GOP opponents, but he also tricked former US Senator David Perdue into taking on Governor Brian Kemp in the Republican primary, and practically dragged the former University of Georgia football star, Herschel, Walker entered the running for US Senator Rafael Warnock, who won the 2021 special election to serve out the remainder of retired Johnny Isakson’s term.

Should Raffensperger win — he and Hice were neck and neck in an Atlanta Journal constitutional poll last month despite 40% of GOP voters being undecided — and should send Kemp Perdue — the last poll had Kemp improved by 16 points — voters could be out Georgia spell out a message to the 45th President that “we’re fine without you, thank you.”

Later this month, our friends across the border may have a role in an election for what used to be a fairly innocuous foreign secretary post, but they could also make a bigger statement to voters across the country.