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Republican secretary of state who stood up to Trump wins reelection in Georgia

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Many races around the country are still too close to call. But we do know about a key win for a state official in Georgia. Republican Brad Raffensperger won reelection as secretary of state against some pretty strong headwinds from fellow Republicans. He's one of the Georgia officials who stood up to former President Donald Trump and his baseless claims of election fraud in the state of Georgia. And he won anyway. He joins us on the line now. Mr. Secretary, thanks for being here.

BRAD RAFFENSPERGER: Good morning.

MARTIN: You made national headlines after the 2020 election, after then-President Trump called you personally and demanded that you find 11,780 votes, to be exact. How hard has it been for you to counter the loudest voice in the Republican Party through your campaign for reelection?

RAFFENSPERGER: Well, I did that by not having a loud voice but just going and have a talking voice. And I've been talking with people all over the state of Georgia for the last year and a half, explaining about the 2020 election and then also just telling them the truth about what happened in 2018, what happened 2020 and about the Election Integrity Act. It's never been easier to vote in Georgia, and we have the appropriate guardrails in place. We have security with accessibility. And I'm just really so pleased with our election team we had here yesterday because our average wait time was two minutes. We had one - some lines that were 14 minutes. Those were the longest lines we had. So we didn't have long lines. And then the check-in time, it was running an average of 47 seconds. Just imagine that. So people had a great experience. We had great weather 'cause it's Georgia in the fall. And so it was a good day all the way around. I know that people - they did - a lot of times, their candidate didn't win. But the process of casting your ballot has never been easier and faster.

MARTIN: Can...

RAFFENSPERGER: We got the results posted very quickly.

MARTIN: Can you specify the changes that were made? Because that was not the case in the previous election. There were - we saw a long, long lines.

RAFFENSPERGER: Right. And I said, enough is enough. And so that's why we got - with the Election Integrity Act, I said, we need to have accountability. Counties have to keep those lines shorter than one hour, and we'll work with them on that. And so we gave them data points. This is how many voters you have assigned to this precinct, this is how much machines you have, here's your throughput and this is what you need to do to make a change so we can give you a green light. And so we wanted to make sure all 2,500 precincts had green lights - no yellow lights - and they came through with just, you know, winning colors yesterday. It was great. It was really a great experience for voters. And we're just so pleased and I'm just really proud of the team we have in Georgia.

MARTIN: I understand your desire to focus on what you've been able to accomplish in the job over the last couple of years, but it is important to talk about what you stood for in 2020 because it's become a big part of your identity, standing up to Donald Trump in that way. I want to ask about the pervasiveness of that election lie. Marjorie Taylor Greene is from Georgia. She has made her election denialism a central part of her identity. She refuses to accept the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, even though there's zero evidence to back that up. How prevalent are these mistruths in Georgia at this point?

RAFFENSPERGER: Well, we know what the facts are, and we've been consistent on that. I think what Americans are looking for, Georgians are looking for, they're looking for people of character, integrity, honesty, civil discourse. And when you have a disagreement with someone, you express yourself respectfully and then have conversations. I think people want to see the country move forward. We have a lot of national issues. And I think what you see is it gets down to candidate quality. And so particularly when you run statewide, you have to make sure your message resonates with a majority of the people. But I really - the basic issue, I think, is it gets down to character and honesty. And that's why I've had conversations with people all over Georgia, given them the facts. And it's worked, obviously. And I just - I'm just so grateful for the people of Georgia, grateful for their vote and I'm grateful for the trust that they've placed in me.

MARTIN: You got some pretty intense threats after 2020 and what you did, very personal threats. Did you ever consider not running again?

RAFFENSPERGER: No, because I knew that we had done the right thing. And at the end of the day, I wanted to have the ability to have that conversation with the voters of Georgia and to set the record straight. And that's what I did. And I think that's really important that people, you know, have ears to hear, eyes to see and the courage to speak it. And that's what I did. And I wanted to go out and talk to people. And I'm just so grateful for the voters of Georgia 'cause I knew that most people are good in Georgia. In fact, they're wonderful people. And so I enjoy traveling all over the state...

MARTIN: OK.

RAFFENSPERGER: ...And just answering questions.

MARTIN: Well, we appreciate you making time for us this morning. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, thank you so much.

RAFFENSPERGER: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Corrected: November 8, 2022 at 11:00 PM CST
An earlier version of the text on this page incorrectly attributed election lies to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
Rachel Martin is a host of Morning Edition, as well as NPR's morning news podcast Up First.