“Jody Hice has been running around Georgia for the last 18 months lying about our election process. That’s what destroys confidence,” Raffensperger said. “At the end of the day, we had an election where we verified and investigated every single allegation.”
Early voting started Monday before the May 24 election, with the winners of each party’s primary advancing to the next round. With four Republican and five Democratic candidates, runoffs would be held if no one receives over 50% of the votes cast.
David Belle Isle, the former mayor of Alpharetta, said Raffensperger shouldn’t have agreed to a court settlement in March 2020 that required local election officials to consult with their co-workers before rejecting absentee ballots because of an apparent signature mismatch.
“We’ve shifted the burden in favor of accepting all absentee ballots, whether they be invalid or valid,” Belle Isle said. “Those are the kinds of things that have brought true questions to this 2020 election.”
But election data indicates the settlement didn’t change absentee rejection rates. County election officials rejected about 0.2% of absentee ballots because of signature issues in 2018 and 2020.
T.J. Hudson, a former probate judge, said voters should choose him based on his experience running local elections in Treutlen County.
“Our current secretary of state was absent. We heard from a staffer. We never heard from our current secretary of state. He was too busy giving interviews on CNN. I’m surprised he’s even here today,” Hudson said.
Hice brought up the latest conspiracy theory about the 2000 election, alleging an illegal ballot harvesting operation collected and delivered absentee ballots throughout metro Atlanta.
Under state law, only voters, family members and caregivers are allowed to handle absentee ballots, but even if ballot harvesting occurred, it wouldn’t invalidate legitimate ballots turned in by unauthorized individuals. The State Election Board recently issued subpoenas to find out if the ballot harvesting allegation is credible.
“Brad, what an absolute joke for you to say that you have outlawed ballot harvesting. You created ballot harvesting in Georgia” by authorizing drop boxes, Hice said.
Raffensperger defended his decisions to mail absentee ballot applications and allow drop boxes during the COVID-19 pandemic, saying if he hadn’t done so, Democratic counties with those accommodations would have had an advantage over Republican counties that didn’t plan to increase voter access.
“You get down to this actual, total disinformation, misinformation, outright lie,” Raffensperger said to Hice. “How can you have confidence from people ... as the sitting congressman who should be telling the truth?”