“But I see your true colors shining through.”
— Cyndi Lauper
In today’s uber-partisan political climate, many people wear their political allegiances on their sleeves. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger obviously puts of a whole suit of conservative bona fides when he goes to the office in which he was elected to serve.
Raffensperger sent an official release from his office this past week on a required report issued by the United States Election Assistance Commission that, among other things, said Georgia was the No. 1 state in the nation for automated voter registration leading up to the 2018 elections and that the state showed significantly higher percentages of accepted absentee and provisional ballots compared to previous elections.
So far, so good.
But then, for reasons only Raffensperger can account for, the duly elected secretary of state decided to turn this news release into a partisan political statement. It started when, after the findings of the report were mentioned, the secretary of state’s release characterized the report as, “... delivering a heavy blow to claims of voter suppression and inadequate ballot access.” (“Nyah, so there!” he might aptly have added.)
(The Herald ran Raffensperger’s release with minor edits in the newspaper’s Friday edition.)
The “news release” then followed with this direct quote from the secretary of state: Liberal activists have been desperately trying to advance a false narrative of pervasive voter suppression which, as the EAVS report confirms, has no basis in reality. While these activists peddle falsehoods – apparently as a springboard for higher office or to dupe donors into supporting their nonprofit — my office will continue to aggressively pursue initiatives like automated voter registration which make Georgia a top state in the nation for voter registration and voter turnout.
The reference was no doubt a jab at Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, who lost a close race to then-Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp. Abrams charged Kemp with voter suppression and called into question a number of actions Kemp took that impacted the gubernatorial race he was directly involved in.
But the current secretary of state did not stop with one thinly-veiled reference. Four more times he castigated “liberals” in his “news release,” urging them to consider “more truthful dialogue.”
The liberal activists who are disparaging our elections in Georgia are really attacking county election officials, but the truth is that these hard-working professionals are dedicated and dependable, Raffensperger opined in another quote from his release.
Perhaps to show solidarity in his office — or maybe strength in numbers — Raffensberger’s release included a comment from his deputy secretary.
Despite the claims – and even the congressional testimony – that our state actively suppresses votes, Georgia employs forward-thinking registration practices that many liberal states have yet to implement, Deputy Secretary Jordan Fuchs said. The truth is that Georgia continues to set records for voter registration numbers, and it is my hope that the EAVS data will encourage liberal detractors to consider a more truthful dialogue about the successes of voter engagement in our state.
There are a couple of major problems with the secretary of state using his office to release what amounts to partisan political propaganda. By constantly referring — derisively, no less — to the “liberals” who dared challenge essentially a Republican hierarchy under the Gold Dome in Atlanta, Raffensperger and his suitemate Fuchs made it crystal clear that they do not serve the entire state of Georgia, but instead remain shills for the party with which they are affiliated.
Maybe Raffensperger has higher political aspirations like his predecessor and he feels compelled to continue his campaign while in office. But by so doing, he’s shown that anyone who does not follow his ideology is getting no service from the secretary of state’s office.
Secondly, Raffensperger is wrong in his assessment that it’s these stinking “liberals” who have dared besmirch the office he tenuously won by challenging Kemp’s actions while running for governor. Hate to tell you, Raffie, but people who declare themselves neither liberal nor conservative — and even some who are conservatives — could smell the rottenness in our current governor’s decision not to recuse himself from making decisions that impacted the election he himself was trying desperately to win.
Even so, Kemp has proven during his time in office — just as Nathan Deal did before him — that once you sit in a seat of power that impacts the entire state, you cannot govern based on politics. Certainly Kemp — and Deal — have based their decisions in the governor’s office on the conservative principles that have guided them throughout their careers. But they have not in any way taken shots at “liberals” or any other subgroup outside their own, nor have they made decisions that meet only “conservative” standards. They have proven to be leaders of the entire state, just as they were elected to do.
Raffensperger, however, has proven himself incapable of separating his politics from his service. And in doing so, he has shamed the office. He should be reprimanded — or preferably — removed from office for using it as a political forum that is beneath the dignity of the position he holds.