Republican official: Trump efforts to undermine Georgia results could 'suppress the vote' in U.S. Senate runoff elections
President Trump’s efforts to undermine the results of the November election in Georgia will “absolutely” hurt Republicans in two U.S. Senate runoff races there, an election official in the state said Monday.
“Many Republicans are at a point now where they don’t trust the outcome of the system, which is never a good thing,” Gabriel Sterling, Georgia’s election implementation manager, told Yahoo News during a Monday afternoon news conference. “Is it going to suppress the vote to a certain degree? Absolutely.”
In an attempt to delegitimize Georgia’s election results, the Trump campaign requested a second recount of the state’s presidential ballots on Saturday after Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger certified the election results the day before. President-elect Joe Biden was declared the winner with a margin of more than 12,000 votes, or a 0.2 percent lead.
While the recount will unlikely change the outcome in Georgia, a taxpayer-funded recount is allowed by law because of the slim margin between Trump and Biden.
“We are focused on ensuring that every aspect of Georgia State Law and the U.S. Constitution are followed so that every legal vote is counted,” the Trump campaign said in a statement Saturday. “President Trump and his campaign continue to insist on an honest recount in Georgia, which has to include signature matching and other vital safeguards.”
But Republican state officials worry that the Trump campaign’s continued insistence that voter fraud cost the president a victory in Georgia as well as in the Electoral College will convince many of his supporters not to vote in the Senate runoff races, which will decide which party controls the chamber.
“We’ve crossed a tipping point where ... there may be some Republicans who don’t trust the outcomes of the system at all, and say, ‘Why bother to vote?’” Sterling said. “Which of course makes zero sense, because if you don’t vote at all, it will increase the likelihood of the person who you don’t want to win it.”
The latest recount will likely start some time Tuesday and end next week, Sterling said, and will consist of a second rescanning of all paper ballots. The first recount shrank Biden’s lead over Trump from 13,558 votes to 12,284 after previously uncounted ballots were discovered.
Trump and his allies, without evidence, continue to assert that they could not have lost Georgia without foul play on the part of their adversaries. On Saturday, Trump attorney Lin Wood unleashed a flurry of tweets, saying Georgia’s GOP senators, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, were not doing enough to “address [the] unlawful election” and suggested that Republican voters withhold their votes in the runoffs.
“Politicians love votes & money (not necessarily in that order),” Wood tweeted. “Want to get @SenLoeffler (Sen. Loeffler) and @sendavidperdue (Sen. Perdue) out of their basements to demand that action must be taken to fix steal of the 11/3 GA election? Threaten to withhold your votes & money. Demand that they represent you.”
On Monday, Republican pollster Frank Luntz said Republicans could lose the Senate if Trump continues to claim the election was rigged, further disillusioning conservative voters.
“If you continue to disillusion voters by saying that the elections were rigged and that your vote doesn’t matter, this could have severe consequences for the administration in trying to keep those two seats Republican,” Luntz said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”
He added, “I would argue that what Donald Trump says and does over the next six weeks is going to determine the outcome of the Georgia Senate race, and well may determine the outcome of our country overall.”
Below are key dates for Georgians to remember ahead of the state’s Senate runoff elections on Jan. 5, 2021:
Cover thumbnail photo illustration: Yahoo News; Photos: Dustin Chambers/Bloomberg via Getty Images, Jessica McGowan/Getty Images
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