ATLANTA — Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger addressed lessons learned, the on-going election rumor mill, and how restore faith in the vote-by-mail system.
He was a part of a "Restoring Trust in America’s Elections" panel discussion with two other officials from other states.
Raffensperger said addressing the daily rumor "whackamole,"as he described it, was exhausting - but necessary.
In the end, he attributed the loss of the two Republican U.S. Senate seats in Georgia to misinformation and rhetoric from President Donald Trump.
Raffensperger said comments from Trump created distrust in the election system and vote-by-mail systems in Georgia. As a result, far less Republicans trusted sending in an absentee ballot.
He reminded, the vote by mail system was ramped up in Georgia- solely because it was seen as a necessity because of COVID.
Raffensperger recounted the moment where he said things took a turn, leaning into dangerous rhetoric.
"When President Trump put pressure on the two U.S. senators, Republicans, to ask for my resignation, that’s when the death threats started coming in. I got a few, but then my wife started getting those and then it just degenerated even further and then she started getting sexualized threats and that continued for weeks," he said.
"What really brought it to a head is then we had an election county who was threatened and his family threatened and that’s when Gabriel Sterling, our elections implementation manger, went ballistic at a press conference, saying this needs to end, someone is going to get killed, and low and behold, look what happened last week at the Capitol," he said.
"And so, that’s where it can go if you just continue to go and stir the pot and play with people’s emotions, "Raffensperger added.
He said, however, there were some bright points in this election. About 40,000 new poll workers in Georgia learned about the election process.
Moving forward, he said his office is discussing ways to make sure accurate information about Georgia elections i heard and taken to heart by Georgians.