By Brad Raffensperger for RealClearPolitics
Even in Georgia, it was hard not to notice the Virginia gubernatorial race this week. As Georgia’s chief elections official, I focus on ensuring that my state’s voters continue to have secure, fair, and accessible elections and implementing common-sense election integrity reforms like ID requirements for all voters.
But with Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe giving Stacey Abrams a platform to spread stolen election conspiracy theories, I felt it important to speak up.
I have seen firsthand how stolen election claims can damage democracy. In Georgia, my past year has been filled with threats, my wife received sexualized threats, the home of a family member was broken into, and extremists were found parked outside my front door. Through all that, I stood up for the integrity of Georgia’s elections because that’s where the facts led.
Virginia deserves better. By inviting Stacey Abrams, who has yet to concede her 2018 gubernatorial election race, to campaign for him, McAuliffe is demonstrating that he cannot be trusted to defend Virginia’s elections, a concerning development that should worry every voter in that state.
Since November 2018, Abrams has alleged repeatedly that her election was “stolen.” She filed a lawsuit against Georgia’s elections officials that continues to this day, though a federal judge appointed by President Obama has thrown out the most headline-generating allegations.
She has raised millions of dollars off of her stolen election claims and has since built a national profile based on lies about the integrity of Georgia’s elections. She has referred to Republicans as domestic enemies.
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In Virginia, Abrams demonstrated that she still has no interest in conceding her 2018 race. During a campaign stop, she told the crowd, “Just because you win doesn’t mean you won.” Not only did Abrams not win her Georgia election but she lost by 55,000 votes, more than four times President Trump’s November 2020 deficit.
McAuliffe is no stranger to stolen election claims either. He famously insists the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections were stolen. In 2019, McAuliffe spread conspiracy theories about voting machines being hacked by the Russians during the 2020 election.
In May 2020, McAuliffe alleged Georgia’s voting machines were vulnerable to hacking and talked about “powerful” voting machine companies that were supposedly pulling the strings.
McAuliffe pushed Abrams’ stolen election claims that have already been shot down by Obama-appointee Judge Steve Jones. In Georgia, it is county governments, usually controlled by liberals in majority-minority areas, and not the state that have full control over polling places.
Jones upheld Georgia law that requires accurate and up-to-date voter rolls, what Abrams and her allies refer to as “voter purges,” over Abrams’ efforts to stop this common-sense and long-standing practice. Abrams has alleged hundreds of thousands were disenfranchised but struggled to find anyone who was actually prevented from voting and could support her claims in court.
On their own, McAuliffe’s stolen election claims should be disqualifying. American democracy cannot survive if the losing side perpetually claims the election was stolen. I have been firm on this since I took office and have never wavered, notwithstanding the political pressure and threats I have received since November 2020.
As Georgia’s secretary of state, I saw personally how stolen election claims have eroded confidence in Georgia’s elections. A January 2019 poll found that 85% of state Democrats and 93% of very liberal voters believed the November 2018 election result was likely affected by voting machine issues.
A January 2021 poll found that 76% of Republican voters and 65% of conservative voters in Georgia thought there was widespread fraud in the November 2020 election. This cycle cannot go on.
America needs leaders who have integrity, not those who resort to stolen election claims because their side didn’t win. Democracy cannot survive if leaders like McAuliffe push these claims on the national stage and give a platform for Abrams to do so as well.
Virginia, the “birthplace of presidents,” deserves leaders who will fight for democracy, not undermine it.
Syndicated with permission from RealClearWire.
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