GOP secretary of state: Trump "would have won" Georgia, but he “suppressed” Republican mail-in votes

"He would have won by 10,000 votes," Brad Raffenspeger says. "He actually . . . suppressed his own voting base"

By Igor Derysh

Managing Editor

Published November 18, 2020 6:39PM (EST)

Brad Raffensperger and Donald Trump (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)
Brad Raffensperger and Donald Trump (Photo illustration by Salon/Getty Images)

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Tuesday continued to fire back at President Donald Trump's baseless attacks against the integrity of the election, calling his fellow Republican's loss in the state was self-inflicted.

Raffensperger, a Republican who has come under repeated attack from within his own party, claimed that the lame-duck president cost himself a win by dissuading his own base of supporters from voting by mail. According to the secretary of state, 24,000 Republicans who voted by mail in the primary did not vote in the general election.

"Those 24,000 people did not vote in the fall, either. They did not vote absentee, because they were told by the president, 'Don't vote absentee. It's not secure,'" Raffensperger told WSB-TV. "But then they did not come out and vote in person. He would have won by 10,000 votes. He actually . . . suppressed his own voting base."

Biden is the first Democrat to win Georgia since former President Bill Clinton carried the state with about 43% of the vote in 1992. Biden won 49.5% of the vote this year, edging out Trump by about 14,000 votes.

Raffensperger said Trump's misinformation about the integrity of the vote in Georgia was "just another red herring thrown out there by a campaign that doesn't have the votes."

He also warned that Trump's attempts to sow doubt in the state's elections threatened to hurt Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., and Sen. Kelly Loeffler, R-Ga., in their upcoming runoffs, which will decide control of the Senate.

"When you have disunity and distrust in the process," he said, "you are going to discourage the Republican base from turning out."

Trump has attacked Raffensperger in recent days as "a so-called Republican (RINO)." Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., who is leading the president's recount effort in the state, has accused him of failing to investigate unfounded reports of irregularities. Perdue and Loeffler jointly called for Raffensperger to resign, citing issues around "transparency."

Raffensperger, who went on a tear debunking Trump's false claims about the election, called Collins a "failed candidate" and a "liar" after he lost his intraparty challenge to Loeffler. Dubbing Georgia's elections a resounding "success," the secretary of state called Perdue and Loeffler's allegation "laughable." 

Raffensperger on Monday also accused Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. of trying to pressure him to throw out legal votes. Gabriel Sterling, the state's voting system manager who was also on the call, corroborated Raffensperger. Graham denies the allegations. 

"What I heard was basically discussions about absentee ballots and . . . if there was a percentage of signatures that weren't really, truly matching, is there some point we could get to — we could say somebody went to a courtroom could say, 'Well, let's throw (out) all these ballots, because we have no way of knowing because the ballots are separated'," Sterling told CNN.

Graham's comments "might have gone a little to the edge of" what people would consider acceptable, he added.

While Raffensperger has drawn praise from Democrats for standing up to Trump's baseless attacks, the Trump campaign's pressure on him began long before Election Day, according to ProPublica.

Raffensperger turned down an offer to serve as an honorary co-chair of the Trump campaign in Georgia, and he later rejected Republican requests to publicly support the president, according to the report.

The secretary of state argued that it would have been a "conflict of interest" to take sides while overseeing an election. He told ProPublica that he believed the recent attacks were "clear retaliation" for resisting pressure from the campaign.

"They thought Georgia was a layup shot Republican win," he told the outlet. "It is not the job of the secretary of state's office to deliver a win. It is the sole responsibility of the Georgia Republican Party to get out the vote and get its voters to the polls. That is not the job of the secretary of state's office."

Raffensperger dismissed the post-election complaints as attempts to make excuses for Trump's loss in a traditionally red state.

"If Trump and Collins were concerned about voter fraud, they would have proposed and passed legislation to fix it," he said. "They did nothing — absolutely nothing."

By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's managing editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

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