Republican Brad Raffensperger won Georgia’s secretary of state runoff election Tuesday night, a race that has been closely watched in the wake of Stacey Abrams’ high-profile gubernatorial bid last month.
Raffensperger, a state representative, beat his Democratic opponent, former congressman John Barrow by four points, according to Decision Desk HQ.
“I’m going to make sure that elections are clean, fair and accurate,” Raffensperger said Tuesday night, at a party with supporters. “And that’s the no. 1 priority as your next secretary of state.”
Barrow did not concede Tuesday night, saying in a statement, “We need to make sure that every voice is heard.” He said he would wait for the remaining ballots to come in and be counted before issuing his concession.
The Georgeia secretary of state race went to a runoff last month, after neither Raffensperger nor Barrow garnered more than 50 percent of the vote on Election Day.
Raffensperger will replace Gov.-elect Brian Kemp, who beat Abrams. He has been endorsed by President Trump and has vowed to uphold Kemp’s legacy of voter suppression in the state, saying he will defend “maintenance of voting rolls” and vowing to make sure only legal citizens can cast a ballot, a tried and true excuse many on the right have used to suppress legal voting.
….starts today, election is on December 4th. @VoteBradRaff is tough on Crime and Borders, Loves our Military and Vets. He will be great for jobs!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 26, 2018
A recent investigation by the Palast Investigative Fund found that Kemp, as secretary of state, improperly purged more than 340,000 voter rolls. According to the report, Kemp cancelled hundreds of thousands of registrations on the grounds that voters had moved, but the investigation found the voters in question still lived at the address where they were registered.
Additionally, analysis from The Washington Post found that the state’s “exact match” law last last year, which requires citizens’ names on their government-issued IDs to precisely match their names as listed on the voter rolls, could disenfranchise nearly 910,000 voters.
This year, voting issues in the state began even before Election Day. As ThinkProgress reported in October, a group of elderly voters were forced off a Black Voters Matter bus taking the seniors to early vote. On Election Day itself, lines in the state were hours long, and Abrams has pointedly refused to concede.
“[T]o watch an elected official who claims to represent the people in the state baldly pin his hopes for election on the suppression of the people’s democratic right to vote has been truly appalling,” Abrams said in a speech that ended her campaign last month. “So let’s be clear: This is not a speech of concession. Because concession means to acknowledge an action is right, true, or proper. As a woman of conscience and faith, I cannot concede that.”
In digital ads, the Post reported, Barrow appealed to voters who are “outraged at the recent voter suppression tactics in our state’s elections” and “fed up with politicians who enable our fellow citizens to be disenfranchised.”