Georgia’s too-close-to-call presidential contest devolved into a fight Monday among Republicans as the state’s top election official rejected calls from its two U.S. senators that he resign for challenging President Trump’s unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud.
Monday morning, Gabriel Sterling, a lifelong Republican who manages Georgia’s voting system, took to a lectern at the Capitol to plainly and matter-of-factly dismiss criticism of election illegalities in the Southern battleground state as “fake news” and “disinformation.”
“Hoaxes and nonsense,” Sterling said. “Don’t buy into these things. Find trusted sources.”
Hours later, GOP Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler — who are each in a Jan. 5 run-off that will determine control of the chamber — called on Sterling’s boss, Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, to resign for allegedly mismanaging the state’s elections.
“That is not going to happen,” Raffensperger said.
Georgia’s 16 electoral votes are no longer key to deciding the election. Democrat Joe Biden has already secured 290 electoral votes — 20 more than needed to win the White House.
With Biden leading Trump in Georgia by more than 12,000 votes — 0.25% of the total — Republicans in the state are nevertheless locked in a civil war as the presidential race heads for a recount. The upheaval shows how Trump’s persistent and unfounded claims of fraud and refusal to concede the election to Biden are dividing not just the country but his own party.
The back and forth began Monday morning when the secretary of state’s office held one of its regular news conferences, with Sterling updating reporters on the status of the vote count and debunking false information.
But this time, he went to greater lengths to push back on claims of election fraud.
“The facts are the facts, regardless of outcomes,” Sterling said.