Today’s the day in Georgia – here’s the latest

Today is Election Day in Georgia, where voters will decide whether Republicans or Democrats will control the U.S. Senate for the next two years. Both President Trump and President-elect Biden campaigned on Monday in the peach state. To raise the stakes even higher and add to the tension, President Trump took the outrageous step over the weekend of pleading with and threatening the state’s secretary of state Brad Raffensberger to “find” more than 11,000 votes to help reverse the already certified results of the state’s presidential contest. The following pair of news stories from the Georgia Recorder do an excellent job of setting the scene:

Gabriel Sterling, the state’s voting system implementation manager, refutes claims from President Donald Trump that illegal votes and other alleged election misconduct caused him to lose the presidential election. Stanley Dunlap/Georgia Recorder

Georgia election officials again defend result against presidential do-over

By Stanley Dunlap

The fallout of President Donald Trump’s released recording with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger continued Monday with calls for investigations and tensions flaring heading into today’s intense U.S. Senate election runoffs.

Raffensperger said Monday that the hour-long phone conversation with the president over the weekend shines more light on the persistent false allegations that rampant  fraud caused Trump to lose the Nov. 3 presidential election to Democrat Joe Biden by fewer than 12,000 votes.

During the recording, Trump pressed Raffensperger to find enough votes to overturn the election results or run the risk of damaging future political aspirations and potential criminal charges. 

The call led many Georgia Democrats and political law experts to question whether Trump broke any laws by pressuring the secretary of state to change the certified results. And state election officials said they worry that Trump and his allies’ frequent unfounded fraud accusations continue to cast a shadow over today’s Senate runoffs by discouraging people from voting.

“There are people who fought and died and marched and prayed to get the right to vote,” Gabriel Sterling, the state’s voting system implementation manager, said during a Monday afternoon press conference at the state Capitol. “Throwing it away because you have some feeling that it may not matter is self-destructive ultimately and a self-fulfilling prophecy at the end. So everyone who cares about the future of the nation should come out and vote. It’s vitally important.”

Raffensperger also called out Trump on Monday for the debunked conspiracy theories. The audio did not become public until after Trump tweeted Sunday morning that Raffensperger did not have the answers to the president’s questions about thousands of alleged illegal votes and other alleged election misconduct.

“We believe that truth matters, and we continue to fight to get our message out, but it’s fighting the rumor mill whack-a-mole daily,” Raffensperger said on ABC’s Good Morning America.  [Read more…]

And this is from a runoff preview that Recorder editor John McCosh posted Monday:

Clockwise from upper left: Loeffler, Warnock, Perdue and Ossoff. (Georgia Recorder staff photos)

Georgia’s costly U.S. Senate showdowns roil ahead of rally finales

By John McCosh

Soon after the Nov. 3 general election it was clear Georgia voters set up two U.S. Senate contests for this week and it seemed unlikely the presidential result would threaten to overshadow the high stakes battle at the ballot for control of the federal government.

But when President Donald Trump campaigns for fellow Republicans and Georgia U.S. Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue at a Dalton campaign rally Monday, the GOP’s hopes to keep control of the Senate could hang on the confidence party loyalists maintain in the state’s election apparatus.

Over the weekend the president berated Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in a hour-long phone call for not overturning the state’s presidential election results and that could cause lower turnout for the GOP incumbents if voters think the election system is rigged. Trump has campaigned for the senators in recent weeks while claiming without evidence that he won an election certified for President-elect Joe Biden.

For his part, Biden is coming to Atlanta Monday in an eleventh-hour bid to get Democratic challengers John Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock across the finish line.

Polling consistently shows the two contests neck-and-neck, which isn’t surprising since the two races were pushed to a runoff after none of the four candidates got more than 50% of the vote on Election Day in November.

The stakes? Loeffler and Perdue pledge if they both win they will serve as a firewall in the Senate if Democrats fail to secure a majority, preventing a sweeping shift to Biden’s priorities to expand access to health care and increase efforts to control climate change. Ossoff and Warnock say they will back Biden’s agenda with two reliable votes. The runoffs have drawn unprecedented attention to Georgia with the rare prize of two difference-making U.S. Senate seats on the same ballot.

Both sides have teamed up on the campaign trail with messages that echo their party’s teammate. [Read more…]

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