Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger called President Trump’s remarks a “threat” during a 60 Minutes interview that aired Monday. The interview also included previous Voting System Implementation Manager Gabriel Sterling, currently the Secretary of State’s Chief Operating Officer and Chief Financial Officer.
Raffensperger was referring to a secretly-recorded, leaked call in which the President questioned the merits of Georgia’s elections systems, voter fraud allegations, and election irregularities. At several points, Trump criticized Raffensperger for stating that there wasn’t any evidence of criminality within the 2020 general election. The President also likened Raffensperger’s unwillingness to assign credibility to election fraud claims with criminal activity.
“Well, I think it was obviously a veiled threat, maybe a direct threat. But there was no substance to what he was saying,” stated Raffensperger. “I heard the threat. I don’t know what that meant, exactly, but it wasn’t gonna move me off center.”
A spokesperson with the Secretary of State’s office informed The Georgia Star that Raffensperger likely perceived the conversation as a “threat” because President Trump all but accused Raffensperger and his office of criminal activity. The spokesperson told The Star that the Secretary of State’s office doesn’t know who recorded and leaked the call.
The Star was also informed that they’d decided to interview with 60 Minutes because the scheduling was ideal and the formatting afforded Raffensperger and Sterling more time to offer full explanations.
Raffensperger also reaffirmed that Georgia’s elections were accurate and untainted.
“Georgia has a verifiable paper ballot, which means that when you re-scan the ballots and when you do a hand recount, you do two things: it verified the count, but it also then verified the accuracy of machines, so that our machines did not flip votes,” stated Raffensperger. “Then we also had a new, online absentee ballot portal, which was photo ID, and over 70 percent of the people that used it in the runoff election used it in that form.”
Concerning signature matching, Raffensperger said that their office had improved the process.
“We never got rid of signature match. We actually had double signature match. When you apply for an absentee ballot, we matched that signature. We verified it. Then when the county sent you the ballot, and you sent it back, on the outside of your envelope we verified that signature. So your signature was matched twice. We had safe, secure, honest elections. The results are disappointing if you’re a Republican – but those are the results.”
Some individuals, including State Representative Greg Dolezal (R-Cumming), tested the efficacy of Georgia’s signature matching for absentee mail-in ballots. Dolezal’s example claimed that he’d applied for an absentee ballot with a signature different from the one on his photo ID, yet received an absentee ballot.
During his portion of the interview, Sterling shared that he and Raffensperger had received death threats, and even Raffensperger’s wife received “sexualized death threats,” after previous Senators Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) and David Perdue (R-GA) called for Raffensperger’s resignation. He added that he’d chosen to sleep somewhere other than his house after the Capitol Hill riot.
“[A] person said, ‘Enjoy your last birthday cake,'” stated Sterling. “[I] would get emails, and they would have a picture of my house with my address that said, ‘Sleep with one eye open.'”
Sterling became an unofficial spokesperson for the Secretary of State’s office after allegations of voter fraud and election irregularities surfaced following the general election. He captured national attention after a passionate outburst during a press conference early last month, calling for claims against the legitimacy of the election to cease.
The Secretary of State’s spokesperson explained to The Star that Sterling’s appointment as Voting System Implementation Manager arose from the state’s need for someone to implement the Dominion Voting Systems, newly-purchased at the time. They shared that the Secretary of State’s office had budgeted between $1 and $1.5 million, but couldn’t find a company willing to undertake the project due to potential liability issues.
Sterling reportedly had the necessary background skills and offered to take on the task as an independent contractor, allowing another individual to temporarily assume the responsibilities of Chief Operating Officer. According to the spokesperson, Sterling’s pay – a significant increase from the Chief Operating Officer Salary – was a fraction of the original project budget.
Despite the certification of the electoral results and completion of the Senate runoff elections, Raffensperger and his office have more elections work in the near future. Two other special elections are forthcoming: one to select Rockdale County’s district attorney, and one to select a chief prosecutor representing Fayette, Pike, Spalding, and Upsilon counties. Both elections will take place on February 9th.
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Corinne Murdock is a reporter at The Georgia Star News and the Star News Network. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to [email protected].
Image “Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger” by CBS 60 Minutes.