Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is reportedly in quarantine because his wife Tricia tested positive for the COVID virus. Raffensperger will be tested for the virus before coming back to work, but his abrupt quarantine at such a vital time was a shock to many who have been keeping an eye on the state's recount.
— Greg Bluestein (@bluestein) November 12, 2020
Raffensperger’s last public appearance was on Wednesday at a press conference where he discussed the recount and explained that the ballots would be counted by hand to ensure confidence in the electoral system. Raffensperger was expected to give another press conference on Thursday, but canceled due to his quarantine status.
When asked if President Trump influenced him to initiate a hand recount, Raffensperger said, “No, we're doing this because it's really what makes the most sense with the national significance of this race and the closeness of this race.”
Raffensperger said his office wants the process to begin by the end of the week and he expects it to take until November 20, which is the state certification deadline.
“It will be a heavy lift, but we will work with the counties to get this done in time for our state certification. We have all worked hard to bring fair and accurate counts to assure that the will of the voters is reflected in the final count and that every voter will have confidence in the outcome, whether their candidate won or lost," Raffensperger said.
Earlier this week, Georgia’s two U.S. senators, Kelly Loeffler, and David Perdue, demanded that Raffensperger resign over unspecified claims of election mismanagement. Both Perdue and Loeffler were up for re-election but failed to achieve a majority of the vote, triggering a runoff election in Georgia against their Democratic opponents, which is set to take place on January 5, 2021, and will determine party control of the Senate.
Raffensperger rejected the calls for his resignation, saying, "As a Republican, I am concerned about Republicans keeping the U.S. Senate. I recommend that Senators Loeffler and Perdue start focusing on that. If I was Senator Perdue, I'd be irritated I was in a runoff. And both Senators and I are all unhappy with the potential outcome for our President. But I am the duly elected Secretary of State. One of my duties involves helping to run elections for all Georgia voters. I have taken that oath, and I will execute that duty and follow Georgia law."
During the 2020 Georgia elections, Raffensperger sought to prevent Georgia polling places from printing paper backups of voter registration and absentee voting information in case polling places would struggle to use voter check-in tablets, called Poll Pads, which there had been problems with during Georgia's primary elections.
The tablets had caused long lines at polling places, causing voting rights groups to request paper backups to prevent a risk of chaos on election day in case the tablets failed. The voting rights groups sued Raffensperger in federal court and obtained an order from a district judge ordering Georgia election officials to prepare such paper backups, but this order was blocked by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit.