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A top election official in Georgia believes that the Republican-run state deserves an apology from President Joe Biden and Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams.
Gabriel Sterling, Chief Operating Officer of the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office, made his demand at the weekend after the state experienced a surge in early voting despite previous claims by Biden and Abrams that Georgia’s ballot integrity laws passed in the wake of the 2020 election would suppress turnout, especially for minorities.
“How many turnout records do we have to break before Stacey Abrams and President Biden apologize to Georgia?” Sterling asked.
“We’re on track to break records in terms of voter turnout in every category,” the office of Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger noted further in a statement.
“In 2018, 223,576 Georgians voted by mail for Governor. So far this year, we’ve received 239,789 requests for absentee ballots, 238,356 have been mailed out. We’ll exceed 2018’s total for mailed-in ballots. So far we’ve been breaking the early vote record set in 2018, and we’re approaching the early vote numbers in 2020,” the statement added.
“Georgia voters continued to hit record-breaking turnout on day three of Early Voting. As of Thursday morning, just under 400,000 Georgia voters have cast their ballot during in-person Early Voting, with 126,918 showing up on Wednesday, October 19th,” Raffensperger’s office said.
“Wednesday’s total marks a 63.3% increase from day three of 2018 midterm Early Voting and is only slightly under the total of day three of Early Voting in the 2020 Presidential election,” said the statement, adding:
Georgia has had record Early Voting turnout since the first day of Early Voting this year, surging to nearly twice the number on the first day of Early Voting in 2018. Yesterday’s total continues to surpass the previous midterm Early Voting records made in the 2018 midterm election, and the cumulative total is only 15,000 votes under the Presidential election cumulative total at this point in 2020.
The counties have worked tirelessly alongside our office to encourage Georgians to cast their vote early,” said Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. “County election directors are getting the job done and Georgians know it.” Reports of long lines were rare, with some lines in the metro areas being reported. No substantial delays were reported yesterday.
Early Voting turnout is expected to increase during the last week of Early Voting. All counties will have mandatory Saturday voting this coming Saturday.
Georgia officials have also been proactive in ensuring safe and fair elections. Last month, the State Election Board asked for the help of the FBI in a criminal investigation into a breach of its systems in Coffee County.
The board highlighted similar breaches in other states and asked to collaborate with the FBI as it also examines communications between officials in Spalding County, Georgia, and SullivanStrickler, the Independent reported:
The board has received documents that include an “unexecuted engagement agreement” for SullivanStrickler to forensically image voting systems in Spalding County, Georgia, Duffey said. The move represents an escalation by state investigators in Georgia, raising new questions about whether the same group of individuals involved in the Coffee County breach sought access to voting systems in other parts of the state as well.
Duffey said it remains unclear why Spalding County was interested in having SullivanStrickler conduct this kind of work but that the board is investigating whether there is any link to what happened in Coffee County. It is also unclear if voting systems in Spalding County were breached. Duffey noted that he has asked for an update from the FBI regarding the status of its participation in the state-level Georgia probe related to Coffee County but does not yet know what the bureau is doing, if anything, at this time.
“The conduct in Coffee County is similar to conduct in Antrim County, Michigan, and Clark County, Nevada,” elections board Chairman William Duffey Jr. said.
“We did not image any equipment in Spalding County,” a SullivanStrickler attorney added. “We will continue to cooperate with law enforcement on any investigation as we have done up until now.”
Officials plan to replace voting equipment in the county following “unauthorized access” to it just two months after the 2020 election, The Associated Press reported.