I’ve always been wary of the praise given to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican widely celebrated for refusing to help former President Donald Trump overturn the state's 2020 election results.
To the layman, Raffensperger may seem like a defender of democracy when juxtaposed against Trump’s abject awfulness. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, Raffensperger peddles right-wing conspiracy theories about voter fraud that have become common among the GOP — the same conspiracy theories Trump used to wage an assault on democracy.
Appearing on CBS' “Face the Nation” on Sunday, Raffensperger took another opportunity to fearmonger over ballot access. When asked about a dubious claim Trump made about election fraud in Georgia, he played both sides.
Here’s an excerpt:
What I can tell you is that we just got that information over November 2021, a year after — over a year after the election, so I'd like — we'd like to wish we would have gotten a whole lot sooner, but we’ve opened up an investigation. But no one has alleged that those are fraudulent ballots. Those were lawful voters. And the allegation is that then they were collected and delivered by a person. But that’s one thing that I do think we need is to make sure that nationwide there should be a law that bans, you know, ballot harvesting. I don’t think that ballot harvesting is good. The only person I should touch your ballot is you and the election official.
All at once, you can hear Raffensperger trying to downplay Trump’s claims of election fraud while creating space for Georgia Republicans to continue their attacks on Democratic efforts to increase voter participation. In 2019, Georgia Republicans enacted a law restricting “ballot harvesting” — known simply as ballot collection — that effectively barred voters from having their ballots dropped off by someone who isn’t a close family member or doesn't live in the same household. Democrats have sued over such laws across the country, noting the bipartisan strategy is particularly popular among Blacks and Indigenous people.
But Raffensperger wants the ban instituted nationwide.
He also said he favors a constitutional amendment that would require voters to present photo identification at the polls. Georgia law already requires voters to do so, and the practice has drawn intense opposition from voting rights activists over the years.
Raffensperger went on to criticize same-day voter registration, claiming it's a "very difficult" process for election officials to manage.
A frequent guest on TV news programs, Raffensperger has largely skated on the goodwill brought by his criticism of Trump, one of the most objectionable people in human history. But Georgia’s secretary of state is no ally of democracy: He’s still giving life to the conservative fearmongering that allowed Trump’s illiberal lies to fester.
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