ATLANTA — Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger defended his top election manager Wednesday, one day after Gabriel Sterling criticized President Donald Trump for continuing to pursue claims of massive fraud in last month’s election.
“He spoke with passion and he spoke the truth,” Raffensperger told reporters during a news conference at the Georgia Capitol. “It’s about time more people out there were speaking the truth.”
Sterling, a Republican, took Trump and Georgia’s two GOP U.S. senators, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, to task Tuesday for not doing more to calm a political atmosphere that has led to threats against elections workers.
Despite losing to President-elect Joe Biden in Georgia by more than 12,000 votes, a result that was formally certified last week, Trump has continued to post claims on Twitter of massive fraud. Perdue and Loeffler have called for Raffensperger’s resignation.
“This is exactly the kind of language that is at the base of a growing threat environment for elections workers who are simply doing their jobs,” Raffensperger said. “We will continue to do our jobs, follow the law and follow the process.”
Raffensperger, also a Republican, suggested it’s time to move forward to the Jan. 5 runoff elections for Georgia’s two Senate seats. He said his office has received 983,735 requests for absentee ballots thus far.
“I believe Jan. 5 is where people should be expending their energy,” he said. “We need to look ahead. Control of the United States Senate and a (state) Public Service Commission seat are at stake.”
Perdue and Loeffler are being opposed by Democrats Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, respectively, in next month’s runoffs. The results will decide whether Republicans keep their majority in the Senate.
Lauren “Bubba” McDonald, a Republican member of the Public Service Commission, is also on the runoff ballot. He is being challenged by Democrat Daniel Blackman.
Also on Wednesday, Raffensperger announced he has launched an investigation into several groups he said have repeatedly and aggressively sought to register ineligible, out-of-state, or deceased voters ahead of the runoffs.
“I have issued clear warnings several times to groups and individuals working to undermine the integrity of elections in Georgia through false and fraudulent registrations,” he said. “We have received specific evidence that these groups have solicited voter registrations from ineligible individuals who have passed away or live out of state.
“I will investigate these claims thoroughly and take action against anyone attempting to undermine our elections.”
The targeted groups include America Votes, Vote Forward and The New Georgia Project. All thee groups have denied the secretary of state’s allegations.