Raffensperger in 2018
|29th Secretary of State of Georgia|
|Assumed office |
January 14, 2019
|Preceded by||Robyn Crittenden|
|Member of the Georgia House of Representatives|
from the 50th district
February 10, 2015 – January 14, 2019
|Preceded by||Lynne Riley|
|Succeeded by||Angelika Kausche|
Bradford Jay Raffensperger
May 18, 1955
|Education||University of Western Ontario (BS)|
Georgia State University (MBA)
Bradford Jay Raffensperger (born May 18, 1955) is an American politician, businessman, and civil engineer from the state of Georgia. A Republican, he serves as the Secretary of State of Georgia. He previously served in the Georgia House of Representatives, representing District 50.
Raffensperger rose to national attention in the aftermath of the 2020 United States presidential election, as a scandal took place in which President Donald Trump attempted to persuade Raffensperger to change the vote count in Georgia during a recorded phone call on January 2, 2021. After this call, Trump tweeted that Raffensperger was "unwilling or unable to answer questions" about alleged election fraud. In response, Raffensperger stated "the truth will come out". The Secretary's office then gave a press conference with a point by point explanation of factual errors in the President's claims.
Raffensperger is the CEO of Tendon Systems, LLC, a contracting and engineering firm that operates in Columbus, Georgia, and Forsyth County, Georgia. He amassed a net worth of $26.5 million from his work in the private sector.
Johns Creek City Council
Raffensperger is a lifelong Republican. He served on the Post 2 seat of the Johns Creek City Council from 2012 to 2014. He replaced Dan McCabe on the City Council. He resigned in 2014 to run for the special election to represent the 50th district in the Georgia House, and was succeeded by Chris Coughlin.
Georgia House of Representatives
In the state House, Raffensperger sponsored legislation to bar county officials from personally profiting from tax liens. Previously, the Fulton County tax commissioner personally collected fees from tax liens and sales of tax liens to private collection companies, allowing him to amass $200,000 over a four-year period. The legislation ended this self-enrichment practice. Raffensperger also sponsored a measure to amend the Georgia state constitution to allow the re-creation of a county that previously existed but had later merged with another county; the measure would allow northern Fulton County to split off to form Milton County.
Georgia Secretary of State
Raffensperger ran for the Secretary of State of Georgia in the 2018 election. The Secretary of State in Georgia oversees elections and is chairman of the state election board. The Secretary of State also oversees business registration and occupational licensing.
In the Republican Party primary, Raffensperger faced former Alpharetta mayor David Belle Isle, state Representative Buzz Brockway, and state representative Josh McKoon. In the primary, Raffensperger came in first place and Belle Isle came in second place; because no candidate obtained a majority, the race for the Republican nomination went to a primary runoff, which Raffensperger won. During his campaign, Raffensperger "said he would reduce government bureaucracy, support voter ID laws and push for verifiable paper ballots when Georgia replaces its electronic voting machines."
In the November 6, 2018, general election, Raffensperger finished with the most votes, leading Democrat John Barrow by less than one percent. He defeated Barrow in a runoff election on December 4, 2018.
2020 primary and general elections
In 2020, the Georgia presidential primaries, originally set for March 24, were moved to May 19 (the date for non-presidential primaries in Georgia), due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Later, Raffensperger further postponed the Georgia primaries to June 9 due to the coronavirus crisis. During the 2020 Georgia elections, Raffensperger sought to prevent Georgia polling places from printing paper backups of voter registration and absentee voting information in case polling places would struggle to use voter check-in tablets, called Poll Pads, which had been problematic in Georgia's primary elections in June 2020. The tablets had caused long lines at polling places. Voting rights groups had requested paper backups to prevent a risk of chaos on election day in case the tablets failed. The voting rights groups sued Raffensperger in federal court; they obtained an order from a district judge ordering Georgia election officials to prepare such paper backups, but this order was blocked by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.
To protect voting rights during the pandemic, Raffensperger directed the mailing of absentee (mail-in) ballot applications to all of Georgia's 6.9 million active registered voters for the state's June 2020 primary.[a] After David Ralston, the Republican speaker of the state House, said that expanded use of mail-in voting would "be extremely devastating to Republicans and conservatives in Georgia," Republicans on a Georgia state House committee advanced legislation to block election officials from sending mail-in ballot request forms to voters ahead of elections. Raffensperger pushed back on the proposal, saying: "By a wide margin, voters on both sides of the political spectrum agree that sending absentee applications to all active voters was the safest and best thing our office could do to protect our voters at the peak of COVID-19. Some seem to be saying that our office should have ignored the wave of absentee voting that was clearly coming." After encountering opposition, the proposed ban died in the Georgia General Assembly.
Raffensperger did not send out mail-in ballot applications to every active registered voter in Georgia for the November 2020 general election, citing the cost of a mass mailing. Rather, Raffensperger created an online portal for Georgia voters to request absentee ballots. He encouraged voters to take advantage of in-person early voting and mail-in voting.
The November 2020 general election in Georgia went smoothly, avoiding the problems that had plagued the primary election in June; Raffensperger credited the successful process to the record numbers of voters who cast ballots before Election Day, either by mail or during Georgia's three-week period of in-person early voting. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden became president-elect, defeating incumbent Donald Trump, and Democrats made gains in Georgia, with Biden winning the state, the first time since 1992 that a Democratic presidential nominee had won Georgia.
After the election, Raffensperger's fellow Republicans, Georgia's U.S. Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler issued a joint statement accusing Raffensperger of unspecified "failures" and calling for him to resign. Perdue and Loeffler offered no evidence in support of their claims, which they made after pressure from Trump, who had promoted conspiracy theories about the election and falsely claimed it was rigged. State elections officials and other Republican leaders noted that there was no evidence of wrongdoing in connection with the election. Both Perdue and Loeffler were up for re-election but failed to achieve a majority of the vote, triggering a runoff election in Georgia against their Democratic opponents, which took place on January 5, 2021, and determined party control of the Senate. Raffensperger rejected the calls for his resignation, saying, "As a Republican, I am concerned about Republicans keeping the U.S. Senate. I recommend that Senators Loeffler and Perdue start focusing on that." Raffensperger added, "If I was Senator Perdue, I'd be irritated I was in a runoff. And both Senators and I are all unhappy with the potential outcome for our President."
Under pressure from fellow Republicans, Raffensperger ordered a statewide hand recount/audit of all 5 million votes in the Georgia presidential race, in which Biden led Trump by approximately 14,000 votes. Critics, including the voting-rights group Coalition for Good Governance, described Raffensperger's decision to go forward with the hand recount being motivated by the political pressure he had received from Trump, and said it was not contemplated by Georgia law. Raffensperger denied this, although he did say that fellow Republicans were pressuring him to find ways to exclude legal ballots. Raffensperger said that South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham pressured him in a call to throw out postal ballots favoring Biden. Though Graham denied the allegations, a separate Republican election official who was also present in the call, Gabriel Sterling, confirmed Raffensperger's statement. Doug Collins, a Republican congressman from Georgia who lost his race and oversaw Trump's efforts in Georgia, falsely claimed fraud in the Georgia election, prompting Raffensperger, typically known for his mild manner, to call Collins a "liar" and "charlatan" for his rhetoric. The hand recount reaffirmed Biden's victory, with Biden receiving 2.47 million votes and Trump receiving 2.46 million votes, a margin of 12,670 votes (0.25%). On November 20, Raffensperger certified the final vote totals, and Georgia Governor Brian Kemp issued the formal certification of the state's slate of electors. Trump continued to promote false claims about the electoral process after certification; some Trump supporters harassed or threatened Raffensperger, his wife, and Raffensperger aide Sterling, the state voting system implementation manager, including death threats. Sterling publicly called on Trump to condemn the acts and "Stop inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence."
A January 2, 2021 recording of an hour-long phone call between US President Donald Trump and Raffensperger was obtained by The Washington Post and released the following day. In the audio recording, Raffensperger was purportedly pressured into changing the election results for the state of Georgia by the president. The phone call included Trump attempting, albeit unsuccessfully, to pressure Raffensperger into overturning the election results. Trump was recorded saying "I just want to find 11,780 votes." Raffensperger repeatedly rebuffed Trump's attempts to pressure him. The taped call was leaked. Journalist Carl Bernstein, who in 1972 broke the Watergate scandal with Bob Woodward leading to the resignation of President Richard Nixon, called the Trump–Raffensperger scandal "far worse than Watergate" and said that in any other presidency it would result in impeachment, conviction, and bipartisan demands for the president's resignation. In an interview which aired on the January 4, 2021 edition of ABC's Good Morning America, Raffensperger acknowledged the phone call, stating that Trump "did most of the talking," and described Trump's voter fraud allegations as "just plain wrong." Also on January 4, Democratic congressional leaders, believing Trump "engaged in solicitation of, or conspiracy to commit, a number of election crimes", requested the FBI to investigate the incident. In addition, while some House Republicans tried to defend Trump's Georgia call, Democrats began drafting a censure resolution.
Raffensperger and his wife, Tricia, have three children and two grandchildren. Raffensperger has four siblings. Trump has falsely claimed that Raffensperger has a brother, Ron, who "works for China", but Raffensperger does not have a brother named Ron.
- The Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials and other civil rights groups sued the Georgia Secretary of State's Office and the Gwinnett County elections board in federal court, arguing that the mailing of mail-in ballot applications (which were only in English) should also have been sent in the Spanish language in Gwinnett County, which has a large Spanish-speaking population. The suit was dismissed in October 2020 by U.S. District Judge William M. Ray II, who ruled that the plaintiffs lacked standing and the English-only mailings did not violate the Voting Rights Act.
- "Representative Brad Raffensperger". Georgia House of Representatives. February 10, 2015.
- Quill, Ann Marie (November 3, 2011). "Get to Know: Brad Raffensperger". Johns Creek Patch.
- Braverman, Jason (January 3, 2021). "Trump asks Georgia election officials to 'find' votes during call with Sec. of State". 11Alive. Retrieved January 11, 2021.
- Raffensperger, Brad [@GaSecofState] (January 3, 2021). "Respectfully, President Trump: What you're saying is not true. The truth will come out" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
- Amy, Jeff; Superville, Darlene; Brumback, Kate (January 4, 2021). "Trump, on tape, presses Ga. official to 'find' him votes". AP News. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
- Full press conference (begins at about 30 minutes)
- Dixon, Kristal (April 6, 2017). "Raffensperger To Run For Georgia Secretary of State". Johns Creek, GA Patch.
- Bluestein, Greg (August 15, 2018). "Millionaire candidates stud Georgia's ballot". Atlanta Journal Constitution. Archived from the original on February 5, 2019.
- Fausset, Richard (November 16, 2020). "As Tensions Among Republicans Mount, Georgia's Recount Proceeds Smoothly". The New York Times. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
- "Brad Raffensperger's Biography - The Voter's Self Defense System". Vote Smart. Retrieved November 11, 2018.
- Quill, Ann Marie (December 7, 2011). "Raffensperger Wins City Council Seat in Runoff". Johns Creek, GA Patch. Retrieved November 11, 2018.
- Kass, Arielle (August 26, 2016). "Johns Creek elects new council members". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Archived from the original on November 14, 2020.
- "Brad Raffensperger". Ballotpedia. Retrieved November 11, 2018.
- Guevara, Eve (May 10, 2018). "Brad Raffensperger focuses on business growth, voting in Secretary of State race". Tifton Gazette. Archived from the original on November 16, 2018. Retrieved July 12, 2018.
- Kass, Arielle (March 23, 2017). "Ga. stops Fulton Tax Commissioner Arthur Ferdinand's fee on liens". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Archived from the original on March 23, 2017.
- Kass, Arielle (August 28, 2016). "Milton County legislation on the table again". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Archived from the original on April 20, 2017.
- Wolfe, Wes (April 30, 2018). "Engineer has eyes on secretary of State". The Brunswick News. Archived from the original on November 16, 2018. Retrieved July 12, 2018.
- Niesse, Mark (July 24, 2018). "Georgia Election 2018: Raffensperger wins GOP secretary of state race". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Archived from the original on November 17, 2020. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
- Brumback, Kate (March 5, 2020). "Hearing set on county decision to ditch new voting machines". Associated Press.
- Ballew, Shannon (April 25, 2018). "Forum features state school superintendent, secretary of state hopefuls". Cherokee Tribune Ledger-News. Archived from the original on April 25, 2018.
- McCord, Susan (July 16, 2018). "Georgia GOP secretary of state hopefuls head for runoff". Savannah Morning News.
- Prabhu, Maya T. (November 25, 2018). "Two Georgia down-ballot races appear headed to runoffs". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Archived from the original on November 14, 2020. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
- Lockhart, P. R. (December 4, 2018). "Republican Brad Raffensperger wins Georgia secretary of state runoff". Vox. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
- Nadler, Ben (March 24, 2020). "Georgia to mail absentee ballot applications to all voters". Associated Press. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
- Nadler, Ben (June 24, 2020). "Georgia measure would stop officials mailing ballot requests". Associated Press. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
- Niesse, Mark (April 9, 2020). "Georgia primary delayed again to June 9 during coronavirus emergency". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Archived from the original on December 3, 2020. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
- Niesse, Mark (October 24, 2020). "Appeals court stops more paper backups of Georgia voter records". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Archived from the original on November 26, 2020. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
- "Judge dismisses request to send Spanish ballot applications". Associated Press. October 5, 2020. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
- Niesse, Mark (June 27, 2020). "Ban on mailing absentee ballot forms dies at Georgia Legislature". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Archived from the original on November 27, 2020. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
- Brumback, Kate (August 10, 2020). "Georgia board approves online absentee ballot request portal". Associated Press. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
- Jones, Zoe Christen (October 19, 2020). "Georgia's secretary of state encourages early voting ahead of record election turnout". CBS News. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
- Brumback, Kate; Thanawala, Sudhin (November 4, 2020). "Despite a few hiccups, voting in Georgia goes smoothly". Associated Press. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
- Brumback, Kate (November 20, 2020). "Georgia officials certify election results showing Biden win". Associated Press. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
- LeVine, Marianne; Arkin, James (November 9, 2020). "Loeffler, Perdue call on Georgia's Republican secretary of state to resign". Politico. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
- Niesse, Mark; Bluestein, Greg (November 10, 2020). "Citing no evidence, Georgia's U.S. senators demand elections head resign". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Archived from the original on January 3, 2021. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
- Hakim, Danny; Fausset, Richard (November 12, 2020). "Georgia Will Begin Recounting Votes, With Biden Still Favored". The New York Times. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
- Brumback, Kate (November 13, 2020). "Masked workers start presidential hand tally in Georgia". Associated Press. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
- Niesse, Mark; Bluestein, Greg (November 11, 2020). "Georgia launches statewide hand recount of presidential race". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Archived from the original on December 3, 2020. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
- Gardner, Amy (November 16, 2020). "Ga. secretary of state says fellow Republicans are pressuring him to find ways to exclude ballots". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
- Jarvie, Jennie; Mehta, Seema (November 9, 2020). "'Hoaxes and nonsense': GOP election officials in Georgia reject Trump's unfounded fraud claims". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 19, 2020.
- Knowles, David (November 17, 2020). "Lindsey Graham on the defensive over calls to state election officials". Yahoo! News. Retrieved November 19, 2020.
- Judd, Alan (November 15, 2020). "Georgia's recount integrity faces attack". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Archived from the original on December 1, 2020. Retrieved November 16, 2020.
- "2nd Georgia election official says he's getting death threats". WSB-TV. November 22, 2020.
- Fausset, Richard (December 1, 2020). "'It Has to Stop': Georgia Election Official Lashes Trump". The New York Times.
- "Trump inciting violence, warns Georgia election official". BBC News. December 2, 2020. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
- Gardner, Amy (January 3, 2021). "'I just want to find 11,780 votes': In extraordinary hour-long call, Trump pressures Georgia secretary of state to recalculate the vote in his favor". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
- Scanlan, Quinn (January 4, 2021). "Trump demands Georgia secretary of state 'find' enough votes to hand him win". ABC News. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
- Clench, Sam (January 4, 2021). "Donald Trump recorded telling Brad Raffensperger to 'find' votes to overturn his election defeat in Georgia". News.com.au. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
- Harvey, Josephine (January 3, 2021). "Carl Bernstein Says Latest Trump Tapes Are 'Far Worse' Than Watergate". HuffPost. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
- Scanlan, Quinn (January 4, 2021). "Trump 'just plain wrong' on fraud claims: Georgia Secretary of State Raffensperger". ABC News. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
- Smaith, Allan; Moe, Alex (January 4, 2021). "Democrats ask FBI Director Wray to open criminal probe into Trump after leaked phone call - Reps. Ted Lieu and Kathleen Rice wrote that they believe Trump "engaged in solicitation of, or conspiracy to commit, a number of election crimes."". NBC News. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
- Raju, Manu; Herb, Jeremy (January 4, 2021). "House Republicans rush to Trump's defense over Georgia call as Democrats prep censure resolution". CNN News. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
- Fowler, Stephen (December 30, 2020). "Fact Check: Brad Raffensperger's Brother Is Not A Chinese Tech Executive Named Ron". Georgia Public Broadcasting. Retrieved January 4, 2021.
|Georgia House of Representatives|
| Member of the Georgia House of Representatives
from the 50th district
|Party political offices|
| Republican nominee for Secretary of State of Georgia
| Secretary of State of Georgia