The past few weeks have been difficult for the voters of the Peach State.
As the nation and the world watched, Georgia took center stage in a battle that will define our country in a very practical sense for the next four years. But also, in a larger sense, how this country will move forward into the future.
Like Americans in every other state, Georgians went to the ballot box on and in the weeks leading up to Nov. 3; to cast their vote for president, for senator, or maybe just the local town council.
A record 1.3 million voters cast ballots absentee by mail here. Another 2.7 million cast ballots in-person during Georgia’s gold-standard three weeks of early voting. Around 1 million waited on lines averaging a miniscule 3 minutes on Election Day.
By all accounts, Georgia had a wildly successful and smooth election. We finally defeated voting lines and put behind us Fulton County’s now notorious reputation for disastrous elections. This should be something for Georgians to celebrate, whether their favored presidential candidate won or lost. For those wondering, mine lost — my family voted for him, donated to him and are now being thrown under the bus by him.
Elections are American — not partisan
Elections are the bedrock of our democracy. They need to be run fairly and, perhaps more important, impartially. That’s not partisan. That’s just American. Yet some don’t seem to see it that way.
When I took office, I committed to running elections in Georgia with integrity. After any election, half of the voters will be happy and the other half will be disappointed. But I wanted to make sure everyone felt confident in the process and confident in the outcome.
And as Nov. 3 came to a close, Georgia’s voters had every reason to be. Again, short lines on Election Day. Record turnout. Record early voting and record absentee by mail voting.
In the days that followed, a losing presidential campaign refused to accept the facts, following a playbook written by a failed gubernatorial candidate two years before. A failed senate candidate with nothing to do tried to undermine the integrity of Georgia’s elections. A self-described “attorney for the damned” took up the cause. An onslaught of fake news and unrepentant disinformation threatened to tear the fabric of our country apart. People on both sides of the aisle generated controversies out of nowhere to stir up trouble.
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Even as Georgia embarked on its first statewide audit, a process that was only possible because of the state’s new printed paper-ballot system, those who requested the full hand recount triggered by the audit of such a close race lined up to undermine its credibility. Those who had so long been beneficiaries of the electoral process sought to tear it apart at its very foundations.
But still, integrity matters.
Leaders of integrity
When the nation is caught in turmoil, as it has been through several presidential terms, the people of Georgia and their fellow Americans will look to leaders with integrity for guidance.
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Throughout my two years as secretary of state, I have fought repeatedly to uphold the integrity of elections in Georgia. We worked with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to strengthen signature matching for absentee ballot voters. We outlawed ballot harvesting and implemented a new voting system with printed paper-ballots that voters could hold and review before casting for the first time in nearly 20 years. We fought frivolous lawsuits from fringe groups and a failed gubernatorial candidate seeking to undermine laws passed by state legislators who were actually elected by the voters.
In times of uncertainty, when the integrity of our political system is most at risk, the integrity of our politicians is paramount.
Many of my fellow Republicans are men and women of integrity. They demonstrate it each and every day: fighting for their constituents, fighting for liberty, and fighting for fair and reliable elections.
In times like these, we need leaders of integrity to guide us through.
Brad Raffensperger is the secretary of state of Georgia.