“Georgia’s race to oversee voting pits an election denier against an election defender”

Miles Parks for NPR:

There has never been evidence to support that claim. No major or widespread issues with the 2020 election were uncovered anywhere in the United States, and paper ballots in Georgia were recounted multiple times, including once by hand during a risk-limiting audit.

Yet according to recent polls, a majority of Republican voters nationwide still believe there were problems. Which is why the incumbent in the Georgia secretary of state race, Brad Raffensperger, is now facing multiple Republican primary challengers.

On the back of Hice’s campaign posters, there is a cowboy boot and the words “Boot Brad.”…

A soft-spoken former engineer, Raffensperger didn’t enter politics until he was in his mid-50s. He was elected to his first term as secretary of state in Georgia in 2018, and less than three years later, he received a phone call that changed his life.

“All I want to do is this — I just want to find 11,780 votes,” said former President Donald Trump, effectively asking Raffensperger to overturn the election results in Georgia in his favor.

The secretary declined. “Well, Mr. President, the challenge that you have is the data you have is wrong,” Raffensperger said.

But experts worry that election-denying candidates like Hice will be more willing than Raffensperger was to subvert the will of the voters in future races, due to their willingness to spread election misinformation.

An NPR analysis found that there are at least 20 such Republican candidates in secretary of state races across the country this year.

“The reasons why Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election failed is because there were state officials who refused to substantiate his claims of fraud,” said Franita Tolson, an election law expert at the University of Southern California. “These folks really are gatekeepers.”

Hice outside a campaign event in Lawrenceville, Ga.Alyssa Pointer for NPR

Hice, who is one of three Secretary of State candidates nationwide that Trump has endorsed, told NPR in an interview that he thought it was appropriate for the former president to call Raffensperger after the election. And he declined to answer whether he would have responded differently to Trump’s request.

“The president was, from the way I listened to it, clearly saying [to Raffensperger], ‘There were obvious problems in this election and do your job and investigate,’ ” Hice said. “That’s a reasonable request.”

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