Republican Brad Raffensperger won Tuesday’s runoff election to become Georgia’s next secretary of state.
Voters in the runoff also chose to send incumbent Republican Chuck Eaton back to state’s Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities in Georgia.
Raffensperger, a state representative and business owner from Johns Creek, will take over as secretary of state in January from Robyn Crittenden, who was appointed to the office when Gov.-elect Brian Kemp stepped aside last month.
Raffensperger finished with 756,083 votes statewide, good for about 52 percent. Democrat John Barrow received 698,847 votes, or about 48 percent, according to unofficial results from the Secretary of State.
At his victory party late Tuesday, Raffensperger told supporters he would faithfully carry out elections in Georgia.
“I’m going to make sure that elections are clean, fair and accurate,” he said. “And that’s the No. 1 priority as your next secretary of state.”
Just after midnight Wednesday, Barrow declined to concede, pointing to a large number of absentee ballots yet to be counted. But by Wednesday afternoon, Barrow sent out a press release congratulating Raffensperger.
“Though the outcome was not what we had wanted, what we're working for is more important than ever: elections that are as fair and as accurate as they are secure,” Barrow said. “In these polarized times that may seem like a never ending struggle, but it's a struggle that’s always worth the fight.”
Raffensperger received 61,142 votes in Cobb, about 50.3 percent of the vote, compared to 60,369 for Barrow, or about 49.7 percent, unofficial results show.
Cobb voters leaning toward Raffensperger in the runoff was a departure from November’s general election, which saw all Democratic candidates for statewide office — including Barrow — receive more Cobb votes than their Republican counterparts.
These numbers could change in the coming days, according to Janine Eveler, director of Cobb Elections. There are 5,704 absentee ballots that the elections office issued to Cobb voters that have not been received or counted, Eveler said. These ballots can still be counted provided they are postmarked by Tuesday and received by this Friday, Eveler added.
There are also about 250 provisional ballots Eveler said her office needs to sort through. These are ballots that have an issue with their validity, either through a problem with a voter’s registration, lack of an ID or a stray mark on a mail-in paper ballot.
Eveler said her office will sort through the remaining ballots in time for Cobb’s Board of Elections to certify the results at a meeting at noon Monday.
As is typical with runoff elections, turnout was down considerably from the general election in November. Turnout for the runoff was about 22.7 percent statewide, down from 61.4 percent in November, and 25 percent in Cobb, down from 64.2 percent.
In the race for the Public Service Commission, Eaton received 749,871 votes statewide, about 51.8 percent, while Democrat Lindy Miller got 697,035 votes, or 48.2 percent, according to unofficial results.
Miller carried Cobb, however, receiving 50.6 percent of the vote in the county. She finished with 61,301 Cobb votes compared to 59,918 for Eaton.