EXCLUSIVE: Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said the Biden administration is using the state as a “whooping post,” calling the Justice Department’s lawsuit against its new voting law a “political stunt” and expressing confidence that the measure will “prevail” in court.
During an exclusive interview with Fox News, Raffensperger reacted to the Justice Department’s move to file a lawsuit challenging several provisions of Georgia’s new voting law.
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“We fully intend to meet them and beat them when we get to a court of law,” Raffensperger told Fox News. “We have truth on our side.”
Georgia’s new law requires voter ID for absentee voting rather than relying on signature matching for verification, limiting ballot drop boxes to one per county or one per 100,000 voters, expanded early voting days, and standardized early voting hours to a minimum of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and a maximum of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The legislation also barred outside groups from passing out food and water to those in line, which Republicans say can be used as a method to illegally influence people waiting to vote.
The law also handed more election authority to the GOP-controlled state legislature. It states that the General Assembly is to select the chair of the state elections board, rather than the board being chaired by the Georgia secretary of state. It also shortens runoffs from nine weeks to four.
The state election board can also now investigate county election boards and has the power to suspend county election superintendents – though the board can only suspend four at a time.
The provisions the DOJ will target include a ban on government entities handing out unsolicited absentee ballots; fines on civic groups, places of worship and advocacy organizations for distributing follow-up absentee ballots; and shortening absentee ballot deadlines to 11 days before Election Day.
“Where we believe the rights of civil rights of Americans have been violated we will not hesitate to act,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said during a press conference announcing the lawsuit on Friday.
Raffensperger, though, responded to claims by the Justice Department, saying that they are “way off base,” and noting that the new law expands early voting by one day and “improved access for all voters so that there is more uniformity in the system.” Raffensperger also said the 2020 election was the first for absentee ballot drop boxes, but said not all were used.
“The law requires all counties to have at least one drop box per 100,000 voters,” Raffensperger said, also noting that the state added “Sunday voting.”
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Raffensperger said the administration is “looking for a whooping post and Georgia has been taking a lot of flack since the November election, and they figure they should just pile on,” adding that the lawsuit “didn’t surprise us.”
“I believe it’s a political stunt,” he said, adding that the administration “took a big beating” over their S.R.1 and H.R. 1 voting bills, which failed in the Senate this month, and which he described as a “federal takeover of elections.”
“The power for elections needs to reside at state level,” Raffesnperger said, citing the U.S. Constitution and the Federalist Papers. “If you look at our state, it pushes down to the counties, the counties run the elections, then precinct voting machines report those up to the county, and then the county has countywide results.”
Raffensperger said the state’s new voting law “improves people’s confidence in the process, improves accuracy, and helps counties to have an orderly process.”
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Meanwhile, President Biden on Monday met with White House senior advisers and outside experts to discuss voting rights in America. The White House said the group discussed anti-voter legislation that has been proposed or recently passed by state legislatures, legislation pending before Congress, and the Justice Department’s recent lawsuit, which officials say was an action to “protect the right to vote.”
The White House said the president and staff “highlighted ways that the administration will continue working with Congress to pass critical legislation and ramp up engagement with the American people on voting rights.”
“The president also reiterated his unwavering determination to win the fight to protect the sacred right to vote in free and fair elections,” the White House said.
Nevertheless, Raffensperger maintained that Georgia’s election law will “prevail.”
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“We have the law on our side,” Raffesnperger told Fox News. “We look forward to meeting them and beating them.”
“I’m going to fight hard for honest and fair elections, make sure everyone has the ability to vote, and the appropriate guardrails so that we don’t have to worry about people destroying the confidence and integrity of the process,” he said.
He added: “We will prevail at the end of the day and the victory will be conclusive.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.