- Jan 26, 2011
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Monday that he has come under increasing pressure in recent days from fellow Republicans, including Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), to question the validity of legally cast absentee ballots in an effort to reverse President Trump’s narrow loss in the state.
In a wide-ranging interview about the 2020 election, Raffensperger expressed exasperation with a string of baseless allegations coming from Trump and his allies about the integrity of the Georgia results, including claims that Dominion Voting Systems, the Colorado-based manufacturer of Georgia’s voting machines, is a “leftist” company with ties to Venezuela that engineered thousands of Trump votes not to be counted.
The atmosphere has grown so contentious, Raffensperger said, that both he and his wife, Tricia, have received death threats in recent days, including a text to him that read, “You better not botch this recount. Your life depends on it.”
“Other than getting you angry, it’s also very disillusioning,” Raffensperger said of the threats, “particularly when it comes from people on my side of the aisle. Everyone that is working on this needs to elevate their speech. We need to be thoughtful and careful about what we say.” He said he reported the threats to state authorities.
The pressure on Raffensperger, who has bucked his party in defending the state’s voting process, comes as Georgia is in the midst of a laborious hand recount of roughly 5 million ballots. President-elect Joe Biden has a 14,000-vote lead in the initial count.
The normally mild-mannered Raffensperger saved his harshest language for U.S. Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), who is leading the president’s effort to prove fraud in Georgia and whom Raffensperger called a “liar” and a “charlatan.”
Collins has questioned Raffensperger’s handling of the vote and accused him of capitulating to Democrats by not backing allegations of voter fraud more strongly.
Raffensperger has said that every accusation of fraud will be thoroughly investigated, but that there is currently no credible evidence that fraud occurred on a broad enough scale to affect the outcome of the election.
The recount, Raffensperger said in the interview Monday, will “affirm” the results of the initial count. He said the hand-counted audit that began last week will also prove the accuracy of the Dominion machines; some counties have already reported that their hand recounts exactly match the machine tallies previously reported.
“I’m an engineer. We look at numbers. We look at hard data,” he said. “I can’t help it that a failed candidate like Doug Collins is running around lying to everyone. He’s a liar.”
A spokeswoman for Collins replied to a request for comment by linking to a tweet Collins sent out on Monday in which he described Raffensperger’s “incompetence as Secretary of State.”
Collins ran unsuccessfully for Senate this year and is blamed by some Republicans for pushing the incumbent in that race, fellow Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler, into a runoff against the Rev. Raphael Warnock (D).