Georgia’s Republican secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, cemented his status as an unlikely hero for U.S. Democrats following a fresh clash in which he rejected President Donald Trump’s claims that his election defeat was the result of widespread fraud.
Trump returned the 65-year-old former businessman to the limelight when he called Raffensperger on Saturday to badger him to “find” enough votes to reverse Democratic President-elect Joe Biden’s victory in the state, according to audio of the hour-long call published by the Washington Post on Sunday.
As Georgia’s top election official, Raffensperger oversaw multiple recounts of the Nov. 3 ballots, each of which reached the same result - that the southern state had narrowly favored a Democratic presidential candidate for the first time in a generation.
He has vowed to fight any future election fraud even as he echoed the findings of his counterparts across the United States that there was no evidence of widespread fraud in November.
He has also repeatedly pushed back against Trump’s unfounded claims of fraud, even after the president labeled him an “enemy of the people.” He did so again on Saturday’s call, telling Trump the vote showed Biden was the rightful winner.
“Well Mr. President, the challenge that you have is the data you have is wrong,” Raffensperger could be heard telling Trump on the recording of Saturday’s call.
The White House declined to comment.
But he and his colleagues for weeks have been warning that Trump’s rhetoric placed them and their colleagues in danger.
“Stop inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence. Someone’s going to get hurt, someone’s going to get shot, someone’s going to get killed,” Gabriel Sterling, the manager of the state’s voting systems, said at an emotional Dec. 1 press conference.
Noting Raffensperger’s wife had been getting sexualized threats, he added, “It has all gone too far. It has to stop.”
It was unclear if the state had taken security measures around Raffensperger after the threats emerged. His office and that of Governor Brian Kemp did not respond to requests for comment.