Georgian Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is not one to draw attention to himself. But the past two years have thrust Raffensperger and his family under the searing gaze of national scrutiny and scorn from members of his own Republican party.
The millionaire civil engineer-turned-politician has drawn unusual attention after refusing to acquiesce to former President Donald Trump’s demand to change the results of the 2020 presidential election, angering Trump and his supporters . They attacked his work, his reputation and even his family, who suffered death threats along with Raffensperger. But the self-proclaimed ‘principled conservative’ insists on the relentless vilification of some members of his party and the public has not changed or hardened him.
Raffensperger, 66, who is seeking a second term as secretary of state in a crowded race, turned to the Bible to explain his outlook on life today.
“I am at a time in my life where the Lord has changed me. He healed my heart,” Raffensperger said Feb. 10 during a 90-minute chat with Atlanta reporters Nicole Carr of ProPublica and Mark Niesse of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“I understand that sometimes people cry out for a king. And that never worked too well for Israel. In Judges 7:7, Gideon had only 300 men. So in my race, I am looking for 300 people to accompany me in large numbers. I think there is a big wave of other conservatives looking for a good, honest, decent human being who will do their job,” he said.
Raffensperger also wrote a book, Integrity matters, published last November, in an effort to make sense of its two-year ordeal and the shifting political landscape that is America today.
The high-profile virtual conversation, part of the Atlanta Press Club’s Newsmaker 2022 series, covered: the controversial Georgia Election Integrity Act (SB 202) electoral reform law that passed last year, the upcoming election midterms and the continued fixation of some members of his party on the former president.
Here are some important points. Raffensperger’s comments have been edited for clarity and brevity. :
How will the new electoral law affect the midterm vote?
Under SB 202 we will now have photo ID. This is going to improve security and voter confidence as so many allegations have been made about the signature match [on absentee ballots].
We also hold counties accountable. During the month of November [municipal] elections, the average waiting time was two minutes [on] election day. The longest I saw on the leader board was around 15 minutes. This is great progress. If a county can’t seem to hold an election, we now have a responsibility. There is a review board looking at Fulton County right now. … If they don’t improve, their council can be replaced and a new chief electoral officer can then be put in place. Accountability is therefore a good thing.
Now if you want to vote by mail, you request your ballot and you have to get it 11 days before [the election], so the county can deal with it. They can mail your ballot to you, then you can mail it back or drop it off in a drop box.
We’ve actually increased early voting up to 19 days for any county that wishes to have two additional voting days on Sunday. That’s 19 days, versus President Biden’s home state of Delaware, which has 10 days. We have maintained postal voting without excuse. In Delaware, you need medical clearance to vote by mail.
So it’s, like I said, easy to vote in Georgia. We have record registrations, record attendance.
Can counties recruit enough voters after the harassment many experienced last year?
I’m not worried about the poll workers. First, they take an oath to obey the law and do their job. They are also trained as electoral agents. They are very competent professionals who volunteer. They can earn between $120 and $150 a day while working. They are your citizens. These are the people you meet at the grocery store. You see them in Rotary, in Kiwanis and in your church groups. They’re over there on the ball field. They are good citizens who work hard to do their job.
Would Raffensperger seek Trump’s support in his next run for secretary of state?
I won’t have his backing because he once backed Congressman Jody Hice. I run on my own merits.
With so many candidates for Secretary of State, especially within your own party, what are your chances?
I respect the law and the Constitution. Our Constitution was given to us as inspired by God. So we have a higher authority, and that’s God. We have no king. What people are looking for are principled conservatives, not people who just shout rhetoric and heated emotions, but who actually get the job done.
So we have new verifiable paper ballots. We carry out audits to limit the risks. We have updated the voters lists. We are updating our voter registration data. We have banned the harvesting of ballots. We’ve investigated hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of cases where people voted twice or voted in two states. So I showed that I will make sure we have a good, honest and fair election.
How is the Georgia Republican Party doing when many still believe the 2020 election was stolen from Trump?
Many of us are principled conservatives. Our party is diverse. We have a diverse group of opinions, just like the Democratic Party. At the end of the day, what people want is for a government to work for them.
What does Raffensperger want his legacy to be?
That I was an honest person. I did what was right. Every morning I can look at myself in the mirror. But more importantly, I can look at my wife, Tricia, look at my kids and my grandkids, and know that I did the right thing.
And it’s quite good. Eventually, we are going to be held accountable, either in this life or in the next life after. That’s what’s really important to me. So with the Lord and Tricia by my side, walking in faith, walking with integrity, it works for me.
Listen to Raffensperger’s conversation in full here.