President Donald Trump became the first Republican to lose the state of Georgia since 1992 due largely to his insistence to supporters that voting by mail couldn’t be trusted, according to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
Speaking to ABC affiliate station WSB-TV in Atlanta, Raffensperger, himself a Republican, pointed out that tens of thousands of Republicans who took part in the state’s primary elections in June through absentee voting did not turn out to vote in the presidential election.
“Twenty-four thousand people did not vote in the fall,” Raffensperger said, adding that it was probable they didn’t do so “because they were told by the president ‘don’t vote absentee, it’s not secure.'”
Trump “would have won by 10,000 votes,” the Georgia official contended, if he had promoted mail-in voting better. “He actually depressed, suppressed his own voting base.”
Raffensperger’s comments come as he has faced harsh criticism from the president for failing to acknowledge unsubstantiated claims of fraud in this year’s election as real. Trump tweeted his grievances toward Raffensperger in a tweet on Friday, making false allegations that the Georgia secretary of state had engaged in fraudulent behavior himself.
“Georgia Secretary of State, a so-called Republican (RINO), won’t let the people checking the ballots see the signatures for fraud,” Trump claimed. “Why? Without this the whole process is very unfair and close to meaningless.”
Fact-checking news sites found no validity to Trump’s complaints about Raffensperger.
The president has indeed made a number of allegations about voting by mail over the past year, questioning the process in many states as it became the preferred mode for voting for those concerned about contracting COVID-19.
In the spring, Trump took aim at the practice, in spite of having himself voted by mail several times in past elections.
“Republicans should fight very hard when it comes to state wide mail-in voting. Democrats are clamoring for it,” the president wrote in a tweet in April. “Tremendous potential for voter fraud, and for whatever reason, doesn’t work out well for Republicans.”
At the end of July, Trump claimed, without citing evidence, that mail-in voting across the country would result in this year’s election being “the most INACCURATE & FRAUDULENT Election in history.” Later in the summer, Trump also told Fox News host Chris Wallace that the presidential race would be tainted by mail-in voting.
“I think mail-in voting is gonna rig the election, I really do,” Trump said at the time, again providing no evidence for his assertions.
By August, the president’s words had made a noticeable impact: only 22 percent of Republicans, by that month, said they were planning to vote by mail, according to a poll from Monmouth University.
Predictably, after media organizations declared Joe Biden as the president-elect, Trump has continued to decry absentee ballots as somehow being rife with fraud, claiming that their being counted for days after Election Day was proof that the race was stolen from him.
Extended vote counting, however, does not constitute fraud and is standard practice. For a number of states, laws on the books prevented them from counting ballots until Election Day, even if they had received absentee votes prior to November 3. Because of the large influx of mail-in voting due to the coronavirus pandemic, as well as the arduous process of verifying such ballots, vote counting lasted for several days after November 3.
Prior to an automatic recount for the presidential race in Georgia, Biden was leading Trump by a margin of over 14,000 votes. Biden also leads Trump in the popular vote count across the country by more than 5.8 million votes, and is ahead in the Electoral College at present by a count of 306 votes to 232.