Secretary of state says he disagrees with some provisions of new election law, but mostly supportive

ATLANTA — Georgia’s secretary of state says he disagrees with some of the provisions in the state’s new election law, but for the most part, he’s supportive of what the bill does.

Channel 2 investigative reporter Mark Winne spoke one-on-one with Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who said he has an issue with the provisions in the new bill that potentially strip him of the chairmanship of the state election board.

“Who do you actually hold accountable if you don’t like the decision? Whereas before, if a decision was made you could hold the elected official that was the chairman. That was me,” Raffensperger said.

The secretary of state told Winne he’s a big supporter of the new Election Integrity Act, mainly for what it does to, in his view, upgrade requirements for voter identification on absentee ballots. He acknowledges though many disagree.

“It’s making sure we have a secure way of identifying absentee voters,” Raffensperger said.

But he also identifies some provisions of the new law he said he disagrees with. For one, stripping the secretary of state of chairmanship of the powerful state elections board and giving the legislature authority to elect the chair.

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“For over 60 years, the secretary of state has chaired that board,” Raffensperger said.

State Sen. John Albers said he was one of many co-sponsors of the Election Integrity Act, which he believes is widely misunderstood.

“It’s a really commonsense checks and balances provision,” Albers said.

He told Winne that part of the state election board job is to oversee what that secretary of state does when it comes to elections.

“You have to have the checks and balances in place so the state board of elections is completely clear and there is no influence from what they’re watching over,” Albers said.

Raffensperger told Winne that he favors allowing the state election board to suspend up to four election superintendents in habitually failing counties, which the new law provides.

But without the secretary of state chairing the board, he said that decision too lacks accountability to the voters.

“When a decision is made, or won’t be made, you know, whose going to be held accountable for that decision?” Raffensperger said.

Albers said the legislature is accountable to the voters.

“The governor appoints hundreds and hundreds of people to boards of which the Georgia state senate ratifies those appointments each year. That’s the process by the way government works and it works well,” Albers said.

Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said Raffensperger’s position is the state election board’s role should not be overseeing the secretary of state’s office.

Raffensperger said he’s sticking to his guns as he did during the 2020 election: that the buck should stop with him as he is directly accountable to the voters.

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