Speed Reads

fool's errand?

Brad Raffensperger's endorsement of a Georgia ballot inspection highlights GOP's election integrity conundrum

Despite his continuous dismissals of former President Donald Trump's false allegations of widespread voter fraud, Georgia's Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) says he supports a new judge-approved inspection of all absentee ballots in Fulton County, despite multiple recounts and audits having already taken place. Those viewpoints may seem contradictory, but Raffensperger told The New York Times he's certain the inspection will reaffirm November's results. Allowing it, he argued, will increase transparency, "restore confidence" in the voting process, and "hopefully put this to bed."

The Washington Post's Greg Sargent, however, suggested Raffensperger is missing the point, even if his reasoning is "well-meaning." The goal of efforts like the Georgia inspection is to "cast doubt on electoral outcomes in conscious and deliberate defiance of what full transparency and the facts reveal," Sargent writes. "If the entire point here is to appropriate the power to simply declare an outcome invalid in the face of contrary facts" why would the latest affirmation of results "put this to rest?," as Raffensperger hopes, Sergeant added. 

In short, Raffensperger is in the position of trying to "appease" Republican voters who believe Trump's claims, while also hoping to convince them of the integrity of the vote, Sargent writes. Ultimately, though, Harvard historian Daniel Ziblatt told Sargent he fears that Raffensperger and others are embarking on "a fool's errand," and may wind up legitimizing "that radical base, to their own demise."