While Raffensperger Is Still The Punching Bag, GOP Shifts Grievances To Upcoming Election

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 06: Georgia Secretary of State Ben Raffensperger holds a press conference on the status of ballot counting on November 6, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. The 2020 presidential race between incumbent U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden is still too close to call with outstanding ballots in a number of states including Georgia. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 06: Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger holds a press conference on the status of ballot counting on November 6, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)
December 14, 2020 12:02 p.m.

Republicans continued their attacks on Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) both inside and outside the courtroom through the weekend, though their grievances are increasingly related more to the upcoming Jan. 5 runoff election than the Nov. 3 presidential one. 

Newt Gingrich, saying the quiet part out loud, attacked Raffensperger on Sunday for the state’s absentee ballot drop boxes, which, he said, make it “harder for Republicans to win.”

While many criticized Gingrinch’s unvarnished call for more voter suppression, his tweet was directly in line with Republican posture on the issue. Last week, the RNC and Georgia Republican party filed a lawsuit seeking to curtail the time drop boxes are open from 24 hours to just the local election office’s business hours. 

Georgia established a network of drop boxes for the November 3 election and the state election board voted to extend their use through December. Some counties have been adding drop box locations, though disparities remain in access to the boxes.

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Raffensperger took fire from another Republican contingent this weekend too, as Sens. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) and David Perdue (R-GA) released a statement hammering him for not releasing a list of newly registered voters.

“It’s been one week since the voter registration deadline passed and the Secretary of State has failed to compile and release a final list of newly registered voters,” they wrote in a release, calling the lapse “totally unacceptable.” 

“This lack of transparency needs to be rectified immediately, or the integrity of our elections will remain threatened,” they added, bashing Raffensperger for failing to provide such transparency “in a timely manner.” 

In reality, the Secretary of State’s office has never publicly released a list of newly registered voters. Anyone can purchase the public voter file from the secretary’s website for $250, and the NRSC has been doing so and presumably sharing the information with the two campaigns.

Still, while the Gingrich-Loeffler-Perdue complaints range from malicious to unserious, they represent a shift in focus. 

For most of the runoff so far, the entire Republican contingent has been obediently homed in on making vague, retroactive allegations about the November election. The exception has been the relatively recent rallying around calls for a signature audit, a process that would not actually unearth more Trump votes, but which the senators in particular could point to as a fix to “unrig” the election for the runoffs.

The expansion to attacking other mechanisms of the runoff election shows that even for these most devoted acolytes of President Donald Trump, it’s getting harder to beat that dead November horse. 

Trump, of course, has not received that memo.

He, alongside his campaign and the state GOP, tried to boost a lawsuit against Raffensperger up to the state Supreme Court on Friday, a last minute attempt to get the court to toss out the results of the election before Joe Biden is officially certified as the incoming President on Monday. The Georgia Supreme Court — made up almost entirely of justices appointed by Republicans — smacked down the appeal a day later, saying that the court has no jurisdiction to intercede, as team Trump had not appealed a final ruling.

The President remains almost entirely focused on legal or legislative “fixes” to overturn the results of his election, a myopic fixation that largely keeps him from looking forward like the other Republicans. 

And when he does look ahead, he can only do so in a way that ties the fate of the Republican senators to his own. 

Calling Gov. Brian Kemp (R) a “fool,” he demanded that a special session be called to launch a signature audit of the November election — or else. 

“Demand this clown call a Special Session and open up signature verification, NOW,” he tweeted just after midnight Monday morning. “Otherwise, could be a bad day for two GREAT Senators on January 5th.”

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