WASHINGTON – Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican who took the brunt of former President Trump’s attacks on Georgia’s 2020 election results, said during a virtual panel that he hopes disinformation about the elections will gradually resolve.
“Before, people didn’t question the (electoral) process, but there was a huge disinformation campaign that really destabilized many sections of American society,” Raffensperger said during the panel discussion on Friday, referring to his party’s behavior as a Response to 2020 I think the challenge we have as Republicans is that our party is really broken right now. ”
But Raffensperger’s participation in the University of California’s Irvine School of Law’s Fair Elections and Speech Center Forum on “election subversion” drew heavy criticism from Democrats in his home state.
Georgia state lawmakers and advocacy groups argued in a letter to the panel’s sponsors that Raffensperger helped pass Georgia’s new election revision law, SB 202, which has been widely criticized for restricting voting rights.
“Raffensperger has hailed the State Board of Elections’ first subversion moves that could result in a state takeover of the Fulton County Board of Elections, the first time a state has taken steps toward subversion,” the letter said.
During the panel discussion, Raffensperger said the integrity of the elections is more important than ever, pointing out how Trump pushed him to announce the election results in Georgia, as well as the January 6 uprising in the U.S. Capitol. A mob of pro-Trump supporters stormed the building over the former president’s “big lie” that the presidential election had been stolen from him.
Republican-controlled states introduced and passed dozens of restrictive electoral laws in response to the 2020 elections, including the one in Georgia.
Raffensperger added that he hopes the far-right Republicans will move on after the November elections and instead focus on winning future elections rather than harassing election officials.
“Nobody should ever be threatened, especially an election worker,” he said. “Many of them are volunteer work. They are doing this out of their civic responsibility, and this must come to an end, and we must ensure that we have safe elections by 2022 and that people are not threatened with their lives. ”
But in the letter of his critics in Georgia it was said that Raffensperger was a “participant” in precisely the electoral subversion under discussion.
One of the lawmakers who signed the letter, Bee Nguyen, a Georgia Democrat, is running for Secretary of State.
“Mr. Raffensperger supported many of the provisions of Senate Law 202, the anti-electoral legislation in Georgia that drove the subversion of the elections,” the letter reads. “The Raffensperger-supported legislation became an electoral subversion model for other state legislatures Corporations seeking powers to take over local election administration. ”
In response to these objections, Raffensperger argued that he stood by the bill.
He said many Democrats objected to the bill’s emphasis on voter ID laws, but added that many states are moving to using voter ID laws when voting rather than using signatures to match votes .
This year alone, 18 states passed 30 restrictive electoral laws, ranging from making mail-in voting more difficult to introducing voter ID requirements and deleting electoral rolls, according to the Brennan Center for Justice.
In the legislative periods of 2021, more than 400 bills were introduced in 49 states with restrictive voting provisions.
Georgia is currently considered “ground zero” in the fight for voting rights. Senate Democrats held an on-site hearing in the state, and the Biden administration has ordered the Justice Department to sue the state over its electoral law on the grounds that it violated the electoral law.
Voting and grassroots advocates urge Democrats in Congress to pass federal voting rights to stop the new laws that many researchers say will disproportionately hinder colored voters. The US Senate has yet to call a vote on the further development of the latest version of the voting rights law.
Isabel Longoria from Texas also took part in the virtual conference. She is Harris County’s first electoral administrator, a non-partisan position.
Longoria said that since the 2020 presidential election, she has received hundreds of calls from people who believe the electoral bureau is not holding fair elections. She added that she has since helped facilitate multiple elections and in no case has she received the same number of calls.
“If you really believe that elections are being conducted inappropriately, you would think that every election was conducted inappropriately, but apparently this only matters for the November 2020 presidential election,” she said.