[guest post by Dana]
Georgia’s top election official announced that an investigation into voting irregularities is ongoing:
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has repeatedly said there has been no evidence of systemic election irregularities or fraud, but he said during a news conference at the state Capitol that his office is investigating any credible claims of illegal voting and violations of state election law.
More than 250 cases have been opened and need to be fully investigated, but there has been nothing so far that jumps out as being likely to change the outcome of the election, Gabriel Sterling, a top official in Raffensperger’s office, said during the news conference.
The secretary of state singled out groups that he said are working to register ineligible people to vote ahead of a high-profile runoff election for Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats. His office’s 23 investigators also continue to look into allegations of problems with absentee ballots, as well as claims of people who voted twice, people who cast a ballot in a dead person’s name and non-residents who voted in Georgia, he said.
But Raffensperger also punched back — as he has repeatedly in the weeks since the Nov. 3 general election — at allegations circulating online that the state’s election was marred by widespread fraud. President Donald Trump, who narrowly lost to Democrat Joe Biden in Georgia, is among those criticizing the state’s handling of the election.
“There are those who are exploiting the emotions of many Trump supporters with fantastic claims, half-truths, misinformation and, frankly, they’re misleading the president as well, apparently,” Raffensperger said.
I think Raffensperger is being charitable to Trump here. Trump is obviously exploiting the situation as much as he can for his own gain. If that includes manipulating his followers and keeping them agitated over an allegedly unjust election outcome, he will keep playing that card. In turn, he gets the outcomes he hopes for: He remains dominant in the GOP, he persuades followers to contribute to his defense fund/PAC, and he reinforces that the swamp needs cleaning out as evidenced by the rigged election. In other words, the President exploiting the situation itself, and the emotions of Trump supporters continue to benefit him.
Raffensperger endorsed Trump in 2016, and in turn, the President endorsed him in 2018. But President Trump strained that support by attacking Raffensperger on Thanksgiving day as “an enemy of the people” because he certified the 2020 election in Georgia for President-elect Joe Biden.
Before the President’s Thanksgiving Day criticism, Raffensberger had already faced public criticism from the President, and took it in stride:
The night before, Trump had tweeted about him, accusing him of hiding tens of thousands of illegal votes and asking, “Why is he afraid of Stacey Abrams?”
Raffensperger hadn’t seen the tweet yet. “Did he at least spell my name right?” he laughed. “It’s ‘Raffensperger’ with a ‘p,’ not a ‘b.’ ”
Unfortunately, it was right after “Republican U.S. senators, Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue — looking at Jan. 5 runoffs and not wanting to face the wrath of Trump — called for Raffensperger’s resignation for election “failures” that they did not detail” that the death threats to Raffensperger and his wife began. Only to be followed by a startling and despicable silence by Republican officials:
Raffensperger — his wife of 44 years, Tricia, by his side — discussed how he has approached his crucial role overseeing the election, his message for Trump, and what it’s been like to have nearly the entire GOP, goaded by the president, abandon him.
And he and his wife both described the faith and family that keep them going in the middle of accusations and lawsuits against him — and death threats against them both.
“We’re straightforward people, simple people,” Raffensperger said about himself and his wife, who met in their 11th-grade homeroom in Pennsylvania. “I love Tricia and she loves me. We love our kids. We love our grandkids. We’re quiet people in an unquiet role.”
“The very first one that we got was really a warning,” Tricia Raffensperger said. “Now it’s every sexual connotation. It’s horrific. Who am I for you to do that to? I’m just a regular person just like they are, and their wives and their daughters and their mothers. Would you say that to your mother?”
The latest round were sent from a dummy account meant to look like Raffensperger directly threatening his wife.
“It’s vulgar,” he said. “It’s disgusting.”
Even as he has had to have around-the-clock security and news of the attacks against him have been publicized, the response from the Republicans who aren’t attacking him has been silence.
Multiple requests for comment to Republican lawmakers who have supported him in the past were declined or not returned. “I’ll take a pass,” said one.
This is utterly disgusting. I don’t care what side of the aisle an individual is on. If they are doing the job before them that they have been elected to do, and do it with unbiased professionalism, that should be respected. And in this case, accepted. Criticism, even if unfounded and delusional, is one thing. But death threats should be loudly condemned by every elected official in the state. At the very least. Shame on the Republican lawmakers. And for the President of the United States to be leading the way by publicly attacking Raffesnperger because he arrogantly can’t believe that he didn’t win in Georgia is beyond the pale. He is, with obvious intention, goading his loyal base to pile on Raffensperger as well. Despicable behavior by the President, and despicable behavior by Americans. The President’s sycophants who are choosing to look the other way and pretend they don’t see what is happening is what we have come to expect of Trump-supporting lawmakers at large. All they care about is themselves. And frankly, if getting re-elected requires remaining in Trump’s good graces, they’ll kiss that damn ring any day of the week. They don’t deserve our respect and they don’t deserve our votes. Shame on them. Shame on the GOP. And shame on President Trump for being such an ugly bastard toward a man doing the job he was elected to do. And doing it honorably.
Raffensperger had this message for Trump:
“When you lose an election, you should leave quietly. It’s the will of the people that has been expressed,” Raffensperger said.
But perhaps it’s Tricia Raffensperger’s message that reassures us most that they will survive all of this. Because, despite the attacks from the most powerful man in the nation, the Raffenspergers have already experienced far, far worse:
…2018 also brought tragedy for the family, when the Raffenspergers’ oldest son died after years of struggling with addiction.
“I’ve been through the very worst thing that can possibly happen to anyone,” Tricia Raffensperger said. “When you lose a child, it doesn’t matter how that happened, how old they were, it’s indescribable.
“And they can throw all they want, they can call me all the names they want, they can do whatever they want. But they can never hurt me like that.”