Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger relayed position information about the election process and the advancements and improvements under his leadership. He spoke to Glennville Rotarians at their weekly meeting held at the Glennville Garden Club Center on Wednesday, September 21, 2022.
"My job is to make sure that only American citizens vote in our elections," he said. "Four years ago, we had no paper ballots, but we have those today. These were encouraged by Governor Brian Kemp; we now have Ballot Marking Devices and verifiable paper ballots.”
One of the reasons for these ballot marking devices is to keep voters from voting for two people for one position, which cancels their vote, and which, on occasion, would occur. Also, ballot scanners have been placed in election offices and polling places.
"We have joined with 33 other states in a reciprocity arrangement that allows us to clear our voter rolls of those who move to another state by sending a letter to the other participating states' Secretary of State," Raffensperger said.
He commented on the improvements in the election process with the passage of the Election Integrity Act, with Georgia given a number one rating by the Heritage Foundation for the passage of this law.
"A photo ID is required for all types of voting, including early, advance, or in person on election day. This security feature breeds confidence in the election system. We also now have 17 days of early voting, with a second Saturday added," he said.
"In 2020, 500,000 showed up to vote, which we can blame on COVID, but we now have record numbers going back to the polls. This past May, in the primary, we saw 1,850,000 go to the polls, and this is 800,000 more than in other primaries," said Raffensperger.
“We also have mandated that the maximum wait time in line to vote at the polls must be less than one hour, even though most of you here usually have no more than a five-minute wait," he said.
"You must request an absentee ballot at least 11 days before the election, since this will allow sufficient time for the absentee ballot to be mailed to you," he said.
"We have also added absentee ballot drop boxes during early voting since 35 counties did not have these. One drop box must be provided for every 100,000 population, and these must be provided with a visual surveillance," he said.
Even though accusations of voter fraud have been made, Raffensperger refuted those by stating that 1634 non-citizens had attempted to register to vote prior to the 2020 election, and they were refused. It is against the law for non-citizens to register to vote, and if they do, they are prosecuted.
Also, accusations were made that underage voters cast votes, but Raffensperger said that this was shown to be false accusations. A person can register at age 17-1/2, but has to be 18 by election day. No violations were found.
He further mentioned that any problems revolved around Fulton and Fayette counties in the 2020 election, and these issues were generated within the election office personnel on not following protocols. Over 50 counties had zero differences after a recount.
"Allegations were made that the machines flip-flopped, but this did not happen," he said. Georgia performed a 100 percent hand audit following the 2020 election.
Since the Secretary of State office also processes incorporations and renewals, he reported that Georgia had a record number of new corporation formations in 2020, which went even higher in 2021, despite the pandemic.
"We have 500,000 licensed professionals in Georgia, and we have now allowed a two-year or three-year corporation renewal instead of the one-year renewal. Twenty-five percent of the corporations are taking this two-to-three year renewal," he said.
"We are pleased today with the integrity of our elections in Georgia. We are seeing more voters going to the polls. Whereas 25 to 30 percent voted absentee in 2020, in the past 2022 May primary, only six percent voted absentee. We are seeing a boost in confidence in our election system, and our mission is to continue for only American citizens to vote in our elections," said Secretary of State Raffensperger.