Brad Raffensperger took a long bus ride this week. The Republican candidate for Secretary of State made several stops in the Coastal Empire as he did last-minute campaigning before Tuesday’s runoff election.
Raffensperger, a state lawmaker and businessman, finished just about two points ahead of his Democratic opponent John Barrow in the midterm election.
News 3 talked to Raffensperger in Richmond Hill and asked him about the recent lawsuit filed in which the group “Fair Fight Georgia” claims that as many as 40,000 voters had some kind of problem casting a ballot in the midterm election.
Raffensperger said he didn’t know all the details of the legal action but did tell us “people talk about voter suppression but we had one of the largest turnouts that we’ve ever had for a midterm election so I don’t think there’s suppression there and I think we need to keep that in perspective.”
Raffensperger says while processes can always be improved, that things such as the lengthy ballot this year helped create longer wait times and that the state and county “can do a better job of preparing voters.”
He also touted his plan for better voter security in terms of the purchase of new machines. He says the ones currently being used are almost 20 years old and are being operated with old software as well.
“We are going to have new voting machines and I’ve been running for a year and a half saying we need new voting machines with a verifiable paper audit trail,” he said.
Raffensperger says his plan would still call for voters to use a machine to electronically pick their candidates.
But he says his system would then allow for a paper ballot to be printed out so the voter could check their selections to be sure everything is accurate.
After that, he says voters would watch their paper ballot being scanned (and at that time their vote would be officially cast.) He says that the paper ballot would then be secured and maintained in case a paper trail was necessary for a recount.
Democrat John Barrow has also called for a different system saying it’s foolproof for voters and cheaper for the state. He wants everyone to simply use a paper ballot which the person would mark by hand.
Raffensperger disagrees with this, saying it’s always possible that someone could tamper with a paper ballot and change the voter’s choices.
But Barrow has told News 3 the marking method would work well and that his system would also include electronic scanning and securing the paper copies. Barrow says his system would cost millions less than the one Raffensperger is proposing
“How we’re casting our votes, what gives the voters the most time and the most information, what’s easiest for the officials who have to make sure that the right ballot gets in the hands of the right voter. If you look at those things, you’ll probably find there’s a better way than just going and buying a Cadillac voting machine that will be expensive to buy and expensive to maintain over the years,” Barrow told us this week.
Raffensperger had a different take.
“There are several different systems. If John Barrow says that his system is cheaper that may be true but what is the price of your franchise to vote,” he said.
Raffensperger does seem to support Exact Match which is the controversial system which this year put 53,000 voters on the pending list. Exact Match requires that information about a person’s name, address, date of birth, etc. which is on a Georgia Driver’s License or Georgia issued ID must match precisely with information on the person’s voter registration card.
Raffernsperger told me the Exact Match system was the result of a law passed in 1997 when “Democrats controlled the legislature.”
Actually, Exact Match was passed just last year by the Republican-controlled legislature but was a system that was used internally by the former Secretary of State and now Governor-Elect Brian Kemp.
Raffensperger says he wants to encourage more voters to cast a ballot and believes that registration now is “a very open process.”
“We want to make sure we have a very defined way of getting on the voter rolls but we would never want to discourage anyone,” said Raffensperger. “We want all lawful Georgia citizens who are American citizens to register.”
“I’m going to fight hard every day to make sure only Americans vote in our elections that I am the person who’s going to make sure we have voter integrity,” said Raffensperger.