As a battle over the fairness of Georgia’s recent election for governor moves from the political arena to the courtroom, two men are locked in a runoff race, with far less fanfare, to oversee the future of the state’s election apparatus. Republican state Rep. Brad Raffensperger faces former Democratic congressman John Barrow in a Dec. 4 runoff for Georgia secretary of state after neither garnered the more than 50 percent of votes required to win outright on Nov. 6. Official results show Raffensperger led by about 16,000 votes out of over 3.8 million cast. Raffensperger has support from President Donald Trump, who earlier this week endorsed him via Twitter. Barrow, meanwhile, has the endorsement of some top state Democrats, including former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. At stake in their runoff is the ability to reshape the state’s election system, which came under a national microscope during the recent race for governor between Abrams and Republican Secretary of State — now governor-elect — Brian Kemp.
Following Kemp’s victory, a political group backed by Abrams filed a federal lawsuit saying election officials “grossly mismanaged” the 2018 election, depriving some citizens, particularly low-income people and people of color, of their right to vote.
It’s one of several recent lawsuits challenging Georgia’s handling of elections that the next secretary of state must respond to.
Changes will likely include replacing the state’s aging electronic touchscreen voting machines that leave no auditable paper trail. Both candidates say they prefer a system with a paper record.
And both candidates say they will work to support county officials while coordinating the patchwork of 159 counties that sometimes interpret election law and administrative guidance in slightly different ways.