Calhoun Times

Moving the needle

Georgia’s secretary of state talks election integrity with 14th District voters.

- By Diane Wagner DWagner@CalhounTim­

A few voters in the very red Northwest Georgia congressio­nal district gained confidence in election security Tuesday.

That’s according to results of a poll taken during a tele-townhall question-and-answer session with Secretary of State Brad Raffensper­ger. His communicat­ions manager for voter education, Walter Jones, said it mirrors their results from similar calls in Georgia’s other districts.

“It’s moving the needle a little bit,” Jones said. “What we have found is if a district is represente­d by a Democrat, voters tend to be a little less skeptical than those represente­d by Republican­s. But we’ve seen a little movement after these calls.”

Raffensper­ger spent a half hour talking about the 2020 election and Georgia’s new election law, and answered questions from the participan­ts. They were selected randomly by a vendor calling district numbers and inviting those who answered to listen in.

It started with a painstakin­g overview from Raffensper­ger on the presidenti­al election — including the initial state audit of paper ballots, the hand recount, the second recount at the request of President Donald Trump, the signature verificati­on in Cobb County and the investigat­ions into specific accusation­s of fraud.

“Every single allegation we received, we checked out,” he said, adding that “28,000

Georgians skipped the presidenti­al ballot. Republican congressio­nal candidates got 33,000 more votes than President Trump. That’s what happened in Georgia.”

A Republican himself, Raffensper­ger told the participan­ts in the heavily Republican 14th District townhall that he, too, was disappoint­ed in the results.

“I understand you’re grieving. But every allegation, we checked it out and President Trump came up short.”

He noted that the conservati­ve Heritage Foundation’s latest scorecard ranks Georgia first in the nation for election integrity. And he tried to put to rest some of the rumors that just won’t die.

A woman from Lindale asked about claims that thousands of registered voters have addresses that are parking lots.

Answer: That’s based on faulty comparison­s of lists and has been rejected by investigat­ors and several courts. For example, many people who live in apartments get mail that’s delivered to a single point in the main office. Others may live in multi-story buildings with retail stores on the street level that share the same address. Rural voters, especially, may get mail at a post office box even though they have a physical address.

A man in Murray County asked about mass mailings of absentee ballots and one in Ranger said they received a ballot for someone who hadn’t lived there in years.

Raffensper­ger explained that those were applicatio­ns for ballots, not actual ballots. And Senate Bill 202, passed this year by the Georgia General Assembly, won’t allow that anymore by state and local government­s.

“We did it in (the primary of) 2020 because we were in a stay at home situation,” he said, referring to the covid pandemic. “All political parties, organizati­ons, sent out ballot applicatio­ns for several different races . ... Many of the large metro Atlanta counties were going to send them out again and others weren’t — this leveled the playing field.”

A question from a woman in Douglasvil­le about felons voting illegally netted numbers from Raffensper­ger. He said investigat­ions turned up 74, who are being dealt with. He also said they found four instances of dead people “voting” and zero underage voters.

“You can register at 17½, but every one of them turned 18 by election day ... Every single allegation we received, we checked out,” he said.

He also spoke at length on the security of the Dominion voting machines — certified, not connected to the internet, verified by a forensic audit and used in Virginia’s recent governor’s race GOP victory.

“We were not hacked ... (an outside company) looked at the firmware and the software. We did that in addition to the 100% hand recount, which showed that’s what people voted for,” he said.

During the call, participan­ts were asked to weigh in on several questions by punching a number on their phone.

Just 41% said they were “very confident” that their vote had been counted and 45% said they were not confident at all. Sixty-three percent said they believed fraud affected the November 2020 votes and 37% said they did not.

However, by the end of the call, 44% said they felt more confident in the vote; 15% said they felt less confident and 41% said their feelings were unchanged.

 ?? ?? Brad Raffensper­ger
Brad Raffensper­ger

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