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Editorial: If senators have evidence of fraud, they should show it
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Hall County Elections officials recount absentee ballots Friday, Nov. 13, 2020, inside the Elections Office at the Hall County Government Center as part of the state's hand recount in the presidential race. - photo by Scott Rogers

It is more than just a little ironic that in calling for the resignation of Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Monday, Georgia’s two U.S. senators complained about a lack of “transparency.” Ironic because Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler sure haven’t been transparent themselves when asked to provide justification for demanding such a dramatic and unprecedented move.

In a joint statement, the two senators said the state’s top election official had “failed to deliver honest and transparent elections.”

Since Perdue and Loeffler are sitting members of the nation’s most powerful political body, they must have ample evidence upon which to base such startling claims, right? Surely there must be hard empirical data to support an allegation of “dishonesty.” Members of the U.S. Senate would not just suggest, without proof, that illegal votes were being counted in Georgia, would they?

And yet, in the days since issuing their joint statement, neither of the incumbents have been willing to come forward and provide the people of Georgia with the evidence needed to support a call for Raffensperger to resign. You have to wonder why they refuse to be “transparent.”

To his credit, the Secretary of State has gone on about his job as expected. The expected auditing of votes cast in the presidential race is underway, and could be followed by yet another recount. Based on what has traditionally happened in such instances, there likely will be some change in the final numbers, but not enough to erase the vote margin by which Joe Biden has apparently beaten Donald Trump in Georgia.

Raffensperger has even gone so far as admitting he had hoped Trump would win the state, while acknowledging that the final counting of votes would seem to indicate that his favored candidate had been defeated.

Maybe we shouldn’t be too surprised by this latest turn of events. This year’s entire election cycle has been turned upside down by COVID-19, with deadlines moved, election dates changed, voting by mail expanded and pandemic protocols in the polling places. As a cherry on top, the state also debuted new voting machines for the first time, adding to the potential for confusion.

In a few counties, the June primary was problematic, with long lines, technical glitches and some general ineptness. But the problems were not statewide, nor were they insurmountable.

Having identified and remedied issues from the primary, the general election appeared to have gone much smoother, and specific problem areas were seemingly fixed.

Times editorial board

Staff members

  • Norman Baggs, general manager

  • Shannon Casas, editor in chief

Community members

  • Cheryl Brown

  • David George

  • Mandy Harris

  • Brent Hoffman

  • J.C. Smith

  • Tom Vivelo

The recount will find problem ballots. They always do. You can’t have 5 million transactions involving human beings and not have something be done incorrectly. Some votes will shift from one candidate to the other, but the odds of enough problems being found to change the outcome, or to support claims of widespread fraud, are miniscule.

We may yet find legitimate cause to consider the general election a disaster; may yet uncover some level of wrongdoing sufficient to justify all the conspiracy theories. Only time will tell, because it seems our senators will not.

So why the call for Raffensperger’s resignation? Thanks to our taciturn senators and their refusal to elaborate on their complaints, we really don’t know. But we can speculate.

It is possible that Perdue and Loeffler do have access to damning information about the state’s top election official and have chosen, for whatever reason, not to make it available. That would certainly justify their demand for resignation, but it doesn’t do much to satisfy their insistence on transparency. If they have such information, shouldn’t it be made public before a recount and certification of the election is finished? Don’t the people of Georgia deserve to know the evidence that led to such a provocative action, if for no other reason than to make sure it doesn’t happen again for January’s runoffs?

It is also possible that these incumbent members of the most powerful political body in the nation have been taken in by the plethora of misinformation, distortion and lies that has been spread about elections across the nation in the aftermath of the Nov. 3 voting. There is no comfort in believing that such is the case, or in thinking that sitting U.S. senators would take reckless action based on bad information and high emotions. These are, after all, the people upon whom the nation’s survival depend.

And, of course, it is always possible that the senators acted as they did for purely political reasons. Both face runoff elections against well-financed opponents in January, and it is possible that making the Secretary of State out to be a villain worthy of verbal assault is justifiable if it results in guaranteed support from a loyal voting base devoted to the current president.

Knowing that they are convinced that “transparency” in the process is what best serves the people of Georgia, we can only hope that Perdue and Loeffler will be coming forth at any moment to explain in detail all the illegal and dishonest things done by state election officials in the November balloting. We’re waiting on that.

Of course, if they don’t, that leaves us forced to believe that their actions were motivated either by willful ignorance or a soul-selling hope for political gain, neither of which reflects well on a member of the U.S. senate.

Our two senators said Georgia’s elections were a national “embarrassment.” If they don’t come forth with some evidence of wrongdoing to support their resignation demand, the state will indeed have been embarrassed, but not by Raffensperger.