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Brad Raffensperger, who defied Trump, wins reelection as Georgia secretary of state

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Grant Blankenship/GPB
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Grant Blankenship
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger was one of the down ballot Republican candidates flying around Georgia with Governor Brian Kemp on the final day of campaigning.

Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has won a second term in office, cruising to victory over Democrat state Rep. Bee Nguyen with bipartisan support.

With more than 3.4 million votes counted, Raffensperger was leading Nguyen with nearly 54% of the vote to roughly 44%.

Raffensperger rocketed to national fame in the aftermath of the 2020 election for defending Georgia’s results that narrowly saw President Joe Biden defeat Donald Trump against conspiracies and efforts to overturn the outcome.

In an infamous Jan. 3, 2021, phone call recorded by Raffensperger’s office, Trump pressured him to “find” enough votes to change his defeat and repeated multiple debunked claims about Georgia’s results.

Raffensperger helped oversee the country’s largest-ever rollout of new voting equipment, expanded access to mail-in absentee ballots and added drop boxes during the pandemic and has focused on improving the operation of the state’s election division and how it interacts with Georgia’s 159 local elections officials.

He survived a primary challenge from several Republicans who made false claims about the election, including Trump-backed U.S. Rep. Jody Hice.

Nguyen campaigned on expanding voter access and often said Raffensperger should not be applauded for defending election results, arguing that was the bare minimum of what the job required.

Nguyen and Georgia Democrats have also pushed back on Georgia’s sweeping 98-page voting law enacted in 2021 that changed virtually every aspect of elections in Georgia, including restrictions on absentee voting and changes to local election administration.

"We in Georgia know that we have always had to out-organize voter suppression," Nguyen said in a recent campaign stop. "Under Brad Raffensperger's tenure, voting rights have become more restrictive in the last four years, not more expansive."

Pre-election polls showed a sizable number of Republicans said they would not vote for Raffensperger because they believe he wrongly certified the 2020 election, but that lack of support was supplanted by independent voters and Democrats who cast their ballots for the Republican because of his election defense.

Raffensperger was also aided by Georgia experiencing smooth elections and record early voting turnout for a midterm, as the majority of voters used Georgia’s three-week in-person advanced voting period and mail-in absentee ballots to avoid long lines on Election Day.

Stephen Fowler is the Producer/Back-Up Host for All Things Considered and a creative storyteller hailing from McDonough, Georgia. He graduated from Emory University with a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies. The program combined the best parts of journalism, marketing, digital media and music into a thesis on the rise of the internet rapper via the intersectionality of social media and hip-hop. He served as the first-ever Executive Digital Editor of The Emory Wheel, where he helped lead the paper into a modern digital era.