Monday, March 27, 2023

Georgia election chief aims to garner Republican support

ATLANTA ( Associated Press) – Brad Riffensperger says the Georgia and US constitutions should be amended To prohibit voting by people who are not US citizens. He oversaw a citizenship audit of the state’s electoral rolls and announced plans to further integrate citizenship checks into the voter registration process.

Georgia’s secretary of state readily admits that non-citizen voting is not a problem. State law already prohibits people who are not US citizens from voting. and while his audit Flagged off more than 1,600 potential non-citizens who tried to register over the past 25 years, none were successful.

But Georgia’s Chief Electoral Officer, Riffensperger, still issues what could be a tough bid to garner the GOP nomination for another four-year term in office later this month, ahead of it to win over hardline conservatives. Making it the focus of your effort. he is one of donald trump’s The top primary target this year after refusing to bow to pressure from the former president to reverse Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia.

His insistence on respecting the results of a free and fair election in 2020 has turned Raffensperger into an unlikely national figure at a time when core democratic principles are being tested in America, but in a recent interview , he reiterated his focus on non-citizen voting, noting that his office has referred those identified by the audit to law enforcement and election officials for further investigation.

“I want to make sure that we follow the law, that we follow the Constitution, and I want to make sure that only Americans can vote in our elections,” he said. “I think it’s really important.”

However, others say that Raffensperger is motivated by political calculations.

Andra Gillespie, a political science professor at Emory University, said of Raffensperger’s focus on non-citizen voting, “It’s a pretty safe red meat thing that he can throw on the grounds he’s hoping he’ll get them.” will satisfy.” “He’s not doing it because there’s a problem that needs to be solved. He’s doing it because he wants to try to ignite his conservative reality with a base of voters who are going to determine that Whether he is going to keep his job or not.

Competitions for secretary of state usually receive little attention. But Trump’s election lies have dramatically focused the attention on such a race. During his declining days in office, Trump pressured Riffensperger to find enough votes to reverse Biden’s victory, a conversation that is now the subject of a grand jury investigation in Atlanta.

Results in Georgia certified after three recalculations, including one partly done by hand. Everyone confirmed Biden’s victory.

Federal and state election officials and Trump’s own attorney general have said the election was fair, and the former president’s allegations were also dismissed by courts, including by Trump-appointed judges.

Still, Trump has taken the unusual step of rolling out support to secretary of state campaigns across the US, including Georgia. He has endorsed Raffensperger’s rival, US Representative Jody Hiss.who objected to the counting of Georgia’s electoral votes for Biden.

In the final weeks before Georgia’s May 24 primary, Raiffensperger and Hiss have been running neck and neck, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll last month. About 40% of potential Republican voters were still undecided in the race.

In a recent debate, three of Riffensperger’s Republican challengers — Hiss, former Alpharetta Mayor David Bayley Isle and former county probate and magistrate judge TJ Hudson — accused him of losing faith in the Georgians in elections. He criticized his coronavirus-related decisions to mail absentee ballot applications to all active voters before the 2020 primary and to allow the use of absentee ballot drop boxes.

Raffensperger defended his record and the integrity of the Georgia elections. He repeatedly returns to his main campaign message, saying, “The real issue we are facing right now is non-citizen voting.”

Georgia law already prohibits people who are not US citizens from voting in the state. But Raiffensperger last year called on state lawmakers to pass an amendment to the state’s constitution to bar non-citizens from voting. He noted that many municipalities across the country have made it legal for non-citizens to vote in local elections. Raffensperger said he wants a constitutional amendment to ensure that this cannot happen in Georgia.

Legislation that would have allowed voters to decide on a constitutional amendment to restrict non-citizen voting failed in the Georgia General Assembly this year.

Hiss said Riffensperger was using the issue to divert attention from his record.

“Voting of non-citizens in Georgia elections is already illegal,” Hiss said in an emailed statement. “If Brad has worked as hard in carrying out the responsibilities of secretary of state as he does in political posture, I will not challenge him.”

State Representative Bea Nguyen, a leading Democratic candidate for secretary of state, called it “a non-issue.”

“We already have evidence to show that non-citizens are not voting,” she said in an emailed statement. “Brad Raffensperger should be focused on making sure that our local election boards are supported, and that every eligible citizen is able to cast his or her vote at the ballot box.”

Raffensperger announced last month that a citizenship audit of the state’s electoral rolls had identified 1,634 instances of potential noncitizens trying to register to vote since 1997. No one was allowed to register to vote, and Raffensperger said his office referred them to law enforcement and election officials for further investigation. investigation.

His office says a handful of noncitizens have been caught casting ballots during his tenure and referred to prosecutors.

Last Wednesday, he unveiled plans to use a federal database to check the citizenship status of any voter registration applicant who has been marked as a potential noncitizen by the state’s Department of Driver Services, When people register while getting driving license.

Raffensperger made the announcement in front of the Federal Court in Atlanta as he took a swipe at Democrat Stacey Abrams, who is running for governor and a popular target for state Republicans.

“While I take steps to stop noncitizen voting and noncitizen registration in their tracks, Abrams and her colleagues are working to open the floodgates for all noncitizens to get on the voter list. ,” Rafensper said, reiterating a claim he often makes that a lawsuit filed by Fair Fight Action, a group founded by Abrams, would end the citizenship check.

Fair Fight executive director Cianti Stewart-Reid said the lawsuit, which is currently under trial, challenges a voter registration policy that the group says unfairly flagged US citizens as non-citizens. from which they may be deprived.

“Our lawsuit does not seek, and has never sought, allowing non-citizens to vote in Georgia,” she said in an emailed statement. “Anyone who says otherwise is either not paying attention or deliberately misrepresenting what is at stake in our historic lawsuit.”

Georgia State University political science professor Amy Steigerwalt said that as much as the Riffensperger primary may be picky about non-citizens voting, it is more likely to be a referendum that Republican primary voters can do about the legitimacy of the 2020 election. How do I feel?

“If you believe it was stolen and that Republican elected officials statewide in Georgia acted unfairly, you are going to vote for Jody Haise,” she said. “If you truly believe the election was not stolen, if you believe that they did what they were required to do under state law, then you are probably more likely to vote for Brad Raffensperger.”


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