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Raffensperger speaks to Rotary Club about 2020 election, new rules
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said he wanted “to set the record straight” about “what happened and what didn’t happen” during the 2020 election and talk about new election rules in the state during a recent meeting in Forsyth County. 

At a North Forsyth-400 Rotaty Club meeting on Tuesday, March 1, Raffensperger spoke about the 2020 election and Senate Bill 202, also known as the Election Integrity Act of 2021, though his main focus was on integrity, specifically election integrity.

“It really gets down to personal integrity,” Raffensperger said. “That’s why I’m really grateful and just really proud to work with the county election office that we have.

“As long as the system has integrity upon integrity and it bubbles up with training to make sure [people are] doing their job right, the system works.”

What is Senate Bill 202?

Raffensperger began by explaining the reasoning behind pushing forward SB202 — an elections bill passed in 2021 that made changes to early voting and absentee voting, ballot drop boxes and other election matters — and how it will impact future elections. 

First, Raffensperger said that the bill instills accountability in every Georgia county to “keep their [voting] lines short.” Each precinct will be required to have a line shorter than one hour. 

“Something that voters hate, we found, is long lines,” Raffensperger said. “[Voters] think that voting should be like going to Chick-fil-A; keep those lines short, and so now there’s accountability [for that].”

He said that the bill will also allow counties, specifically Fulton, to be monitored during the election process by a bipartisan panel. Raffensperger said the bill will allow the panels to do a “deep dive” into voting processes in case a problem needs to be reported to the state election board. 

He also addressed a portion of the bill that bans anyone but poll workers from giving out water and food within 150 feet of a polling place, stating that he believed this portion of the bill was what cost Georgia “the [MLB] All-Star Game.”

Raffensperger said the reason behind the rule was simple: politicking - or campaigning for votes - is not allowed within 150 feet of a voting precinct. 

During the 2020 election, Raffensperger said that people were “[bending] the rules” by handing out water bottles within 150 feet of the voting precinct wearing “team” shirts, effectively, campaigning for a specific party. 

“[The bill] says no water, no food, no electioneering,” Raffensperger said. “But that got spun up really quickly, and I believe that’s why we lost the All-Star Game.

“Before the General Assembly could come back and say, ‘Hey, that’s not what [SB202 is about], we’re not about people falling out and dying of thirst, this [politicking] is what was happening.” 

Issues surrounding the 2020 election

Following the 2020 election, a phone call between Raffensperger and then-President Donald J. Trump made headlines after Trump asked him to “find” enough votes to overcome the 11,779-vote margin he trailed behind President Joe Biden.

During Tuesday’s meeting, Raffensperger said the reason why Trump lost the election in Georgia was because 28,000 Georgians “skipped the presidential ballot.” 

“They looked at Donald J. Trump, Joseph R. Biden and Jo Jorgensen [on the ballot] … and they didn’t vote for anyone,” Raffensperger said. “That’s why President Trump came up short.”

He also addressed the rumors about ballot counting at the State Farm Arena – which, in the call, Trump said “was stuffed with [at least 18,000] votes for Biden after a water main break – explaining that, from his perspective, “nothing [happened].”

He said that employees working at the voting polls on the night of the election were storing unscanned absentee ballots in boxes before “calling it a night” and leaving their jobs early. 

When the employees were told to stay until “at least 2 a.m.” to work, they started “pulling these [boxes] out, opening [them] up and pulling out these unscanned ballots, putting them on the table and [continuing] to do the work.”

Raffensperger said that something got narrated during a Senate meeting that “didn’t happen,” and that the employees of the State Farm Arena were accused of double-scanning ballots. 

While Raffensperger called the GBI and FBI to investigate this allegation, he said that Fox News was already reporting the “rumor, that piece of disinformation.”

“Even a year later, people still ask about it,” Raffensperger said. 

“And even though I just gave you the complete run-down of what happened [that night], and [I’ve told you that] the FBI looked at it and they dismissed it, some people say, ‘Well, you can’t trust the FBI,’” he said. “I get it. But would you trust someone that President Trump hand-picked? I would hope you would.” 

Raffensperger said that Bobby Christine, a man “hand-picked by Trump” from Savannah, investigated the case at State Farm Arena, eventually dismissing it.

Addressing other claims, including a “rumored 10,313” deceased residents casting a vote, he said there “were only four” ballots cast by a deceased person. 

He said that there “were only four" … [deceased people] that voted in the election, not the rumored 10,313, and those found breaking the rule were fined and “will not be doing that again.”

He also said there were no underage voters, squashing the rumor that there were 66,000 voters under the age of 18. Raffensperger explained that in the state of Georgia, citizens are allowed to register to vote at the age of 17 and a half, ensuring that each voter is 18 years or older before Election Day. 

He said that the poll machines did not “flip the vote,” because the 100% recount done by hand-matched what machines had previously tabulated.

“What they found was remarkably close and none of it would’ve overturned the results,” Raffensperger said. “So, President Trump still came up short.” 

“I know that my party is grieving and I’m trying to help them get over that,” he said. “But at the end of the day, what people need to understand is that 28,000 people skipped [voting on] the presidential ballot.”