Democratic secretary of state hopefuls use runoff debate to attack Raffensperger

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The two Democrats seeking their party’s nomination for Georgia Secretary of State agreed on the issues Monday while focusing most of their fire on Republican incumbent Brad Raffensperger.

State Rep. Bee Nguyen gave Raffensperger credit for standing up to former President Donald Trump and refusing to go along with Trump’s attempts to overturn Georgia’s 2020 election results.


But she accused the Republican secretary of state of harping on the need to ban non-U.S. citizens from voting and prohibit “harvesting” of absentee ballots when there’s no evidence either is a problem in Georgia.

“We have a secretary of state who upheld the law,” Nguyen said. “But he’s running his campaign based on conspiracy theories.”

Former state Rep. Dee Dawkins-Haigler, who finished second to Nguyen in the May 24 Democratic primary, criticized Raffensperger for supporting legislation the Republican-controlled General Assembly passed last year requiring Georgians to show a photo ID to cast an absentee ballot. She said the incumbent also favors assigning armed security to polling places.

“The last thing we need is an armed guard at any polling place,” Dawkins-Haigler said. “That intimidates people.”

Dawkins-Haigler said her fight against voter suppression dates back to before Raffensperger took office in 2019. She sued the state in 2016 over the use of voting machines without a paper backup, action she said prompted the state to equip the machines with paper backups for the current election cycle.

Nguyen said she has dedicated most of her life to working in the nonprofit sector for the public interest on issues ranging from legal reform to access to health care.

If elected, Nguyen said she would create a division in the agency to clear up the “disinformation” Republicans spread among voters and work to provide more resources to local elections officials.

“Our local election boards do not feel adequately supplied by the secretary of state,” she said.

Dawkins-Haigler said her experience as an educator, community activist and political strategist would let her hit the ground running as secretary of state.

“I have the experience where it matters,” she said. “This job doesn’t need training wheels.”

The winner of the Democratic primary runoff June 21 will face Raffensperger in November. Despite Trump’s endorsement of one of his Republican primary opponents, Raffensperger won renomination for a second term outright, avoiding the need for a GOP runoff.

This story is available through a news partnership with Capitol Beat News Service, a project of the Georgia Press Educational Foundation.

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