“I’m Republican and I’m Conservative. And I think I’ll be disappointed because I don’t think my candidate will win, ”Raffensperger said in an interview this week before Georgia confirmed his results. “Still, I want 100 percent of people to have confidence in the results. I will not like it. And I have to take this medicine just like everyone else in my group, but it will be an accurate count. ”
Raffensperger said he would run for another term in 2022, although other Republicans “likely have the idea” of beating him in elementary school now, he said. “And right now the emotions are pretty high. It will be. I will do my job. And my bookkeeping is for the Georgians who put me in office and really for all Georgians. ”
He gets air support. Republicans for the Rule of Law, a group that opposed Trump, was recently formed a half a million dollar advertising campaign in the state in which Raffensperger is thanked for holding a “textbook election under exceptional circumstances”.
“Look, it’s an unfortunate reality that in the Trump era, with the exception of a few, Republicans were difficult to stand up to the president and stand on the side of the truth,” said Sarah Longwell, an anti-Trump -Republican who helps run the group: “It can do him political harm, but I think it is his honor – as a person and as a Republican – that he will tell the truth no matter what.”
Trump defended himself against Raffensperger and labeled him a RINO in a tweet and increased calls from GOP Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler for Raffensperger to step down.
A simple mention on Trump’s Twitter feed can have serious consequences for the safety and mental health of officials beyond their political considerations.
The threats “started off fairly generically,” said Al Schmidt, a Republican election commissioner in Philadelphia. “But then, unfortunately, after the president tweeted my name, there were more of them, and they were far more specific. So, reference my kids and what they’re going to do to them. ”
Like Raffensperger, the president also tweeted about Schmidt call him a RINO and said he “refuses to look at a mountain of corruption and dishonesty.” Schmidt said he now has a security detail out of town to keep him and his family safe.
“It’s not just me, but also my staff, the other commissioners,” said Schmidt. The threats aren’t new either. Many election officials have been dealing with them for months.
Election officials across the country reported receiving threats for their work. “There are those, including the president, members of Congress and other elected officials, who uphold misinformation and encourage others to distribute election results in ways that violate the oath of office they have taken,” said Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs. a Democrat said in a statement. “Your words and actions have consequences.”
Even those who took the relatively prosaic step of facilitating voting amid a pandemic – like Kentucky Republican Secretary of State Michael Adams – were not immune. Adams worked with Democratic Governor Andy Beshear to significantly expand electoral access for his state’s June primary, which earned him bipartisan praise within the state and in the general election.
But he said he did also exposed to Republican criticism for his efforts as Trump cracked down on the once-undisputed practice of postal voting – while national figures and prominent Democrats like LeBron James and Hillary Clinton criticized the state for keeping few voting centers open (omitting details such as the postal expansion) ). That led to Abusive calls clog election officials’ phone lines. Adams, too, noted that he was taking a significant political risk.
“I have tried very hard to make my decisions about how we can make our elections safe and successful, but I have found that no one has argued that I made these decisions in my own interest or in someone else’s political interest,” he said tweeted in August. “Show me the door in 2023, but until then I’ll act according to my knowledge and my conscience.”
Georgia’s Raffensperger insists he should not be bothered by the attacks on him and said he has the support of ordinary supporters.
“Really, a lot of grassroots Republicans. Ronald Reagan-type Republicans, Conservatives, ”Raffensberger said. “People who can be objective and fair and who do not allow themselves to be pinned on by external forces.”
The Philadelphia Schmidt said he was less concerned with his own political future than with the erosion of trust in the democratic system.
“I am in some ways concerned about the future of our country,” said Schmidt. “Of course I’m worried about the party and its future. But in a broader sense, the damage done to our electoral system. ”
Schmidt, who was re-elected for a third term in 2019 and cannot be re-elected until 2023, said, “I really haven’t thought about it,” if he ran again. But he spoke at length about the deterioration in confidence in the American elections.
There is the phrase, ‘There is no Republican or Democratic way to fix a pothole, “he said.” There should be no Republican or Democratic way to count a vote. ”