The landscape in Georgia
Georgia was a hotspot for Election Denier behavior from the very beginning. And its state and local officials held the line. After the 2020 election, then-President Trump pressured Governor Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to overturn Trump’s narrow loss in the state’s presidential election. Both refused—on tape, in Raffensperger’s case.
In their pressure campaign to state legislatures, Trump allies visited Atlanta to shop lies about election fraud to the Georgia Senate. Georgia legislators later visited Arizona, hoping to learn from a sham audit underway in that state. More than 20 people have been arrested in Georgia and charged with crimes related to the Jan. 6 attack. And six Georgia members of Congress were among the 147 who voted to overturn 2020 election results.
And then there was the impact on the everyday lives of Georgians. Two Georgia election workers, Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, were ruthlessly harassed after Trump and Giuliani claimed they were manipulating ballots. Moss described the ordeal in memorable testimony before the House January 6 Select Committee. Both women were later formally cleared of wrongdoing by the state, and they are now suing Giuliani for defamation.
Almost three years after the 2020 election, a grand jury of everyday Georgians indicted Trump and 18 other people, accused of forming “a criminal enterprise” to change the election result. Also indicted were three of the 16 pro-Trump Republicans who posed as duly elected presidential electors, even though President Biden won the state, and others accused of breaching voting equipment in Coffee County. In late 2023, some of the defendants began pleading guilty. One of them was former Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis, who admitted she never verified the facts before she promoted fraud claims to state legislatures in 2020. “If I knew then what I know now,” Ellis told a judge, “I would have declined to represent Donald Trump in these post-election challenges.”
As for Kemp and Raffensperger: Both survived primary challenges from Election Deniers in 2022 and were easily elected to second terms.
0 Election Deniers hold statewide Office right now.
Elections are run by the states. In Georgia, the Governor, Attorney General, and Secretary of State are the state officials responsible for overseeing elections. It’s up to them to make sure the will of the people is always respected.
Read more about The Roles of Our Elected Officials in Elections
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How Georgia compares
Every state runs its own elections, with its own laws and processes. Check out how Georgia compares with other states in its region when it comes to Election Deniers holding state election administration jobs.
Election Denial in Southeast States
Sitting official is an Election Denier
- In Florida, the Governor appoints the Secretary of State. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is an Election Denier and appointed Cord Byrd as Florida’s Secretary of State in May 2022.
- In North Carolina, the Executive Director is appointed by the North Carolina State Board of Elections.
- In South Carolina, the Executive Director is appointed by the South Carolina Election Commission.
- In Tennessee, the Secretary of State is appointed by the legislature.
- In Virginia, the Governor appoints the Commissioner of Elections.
Voter turnout over time
Voters are always the backstop against election denial, whether Election Deniers are already in office or vying for power. It’s important to turn out for every election in your state—and to vote in every race on your ballot. Downballot races, like contests for Attorney General and Secretary of State, have historically drawn fewer voters, even though the positions are critical to keeping elections free, fair, and secure. Here’s a look at voter participation in Georgia elections over time. Notice that in years with several important positions up for election, some voters choose not to vote in every race.
Data on the number of votes cast in each race are from state elections depositories, supplemented with data from the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC), House Election Statistics, and The Book of States. Rates are calculated using the Census’s Citizen Voting Age Population (CVAP) estimates. Rates will be updated when the Census releases new CVAP data for 2022.
Beyond the ballot box
Each year, state legislators introduce thousands of bills related to elections. And in the past few years, we’ve identified a concerning trend. Across the country, state legislatures are considering bills that would make it easier for partisan actors to manipulate an election, and maybe even overturn the will of the people. We’re tracking these bills along with our partners in an ongoing series of reports called “A Democracy Crisis in the Making.” In 2023 alone, through early May, we tracked 185 bills introduced in 38 state legislatures that would politicize, criminalize, or interfere with elections.
The anti-democracy playbook is simple: change the rules and change the referees, in order to change the results. These bills go hand-in-hand with the Election Denier movement: They’re about taking power away from voters and making it harder for trusted election officials to do their jobs.
One of these bills was enacted or adopted. That bill fell into the category of creating unworkable burdens in election administration.