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Kemp avoids Trump fraud claims, but GOP rep calls state election handling ‘embarrassing’

By James Salzer – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Maya T. Prabhu – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

(CNT) City News Talk #atlanta-ga

Until he was elected governor in 2018, Brian Kemp ran Georgia’s elections, and his office investigated few cases of voter fraud in the state.

On Friday his office declined to comment about President Donald Trump’s accusations of widespread fraud in the tightly contested states that were still counting presidential election ballots, such as Georgia. As did Republican Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan, the Georgia Senate’s president.

Trump raised the issue only hours before the vote count put former Vice President Joe Biden ahead in Georgia.

Gabriel Sterling, the state’s voting system manager, told reporters Friday, “We’re not seeing any widespread irregularities.”

Kemp, like his successor as secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, is a Republican who supported Trump’s reelection. They both face reelection campaigns in 2022.

Nonetheless, some Georgia GOP congressmen and candidates sided with Trump’s assessment.

“GA’s handling of this election is embarrassing,” U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, R-Monroe, tweeted. “Two days are gone and we still don’t know the results …. are you kidding? Worse yet, partisan ballots keep appearing. A fair vote & Trump wins, end of story! Stop the fraud!”

Election officials across the country had warned that it could take several days to count the record turnout in the presidential election, particularly since far more people than usual voted with absentee ballots because many Americans wanted to avoid polling places due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was also widely predicted by Democrats and pundits that Trump would blame “widespread fraud” if he lost. In 2016, he lost the popular vote but made the unproven claim that millions of illegal votes were cast for his opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Hice wasn’t the only Georgia GOP congressman to raise the issue.

“Democrats are trying to steal the election,” said U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, who lost a bid for the U.S. Senate in Tuesday’s election and is a close Trump ally.

Marjorie Taylor Greene, who just won a northwest Georgia congressional seat, tweeted: “Every LEGAL vote must be counted. Every ILLEGAL vote must be thrown out and prosecuted. STOP THE STEAL!”

Georgia’s Republican U.S. Sens. David Perdue and Kelley Loeffler were more nuanced, tweeting only that every “lawful” or “legal” vote should be counted. “If that happens, Donald Trump will be re-elected,” Perdue tweeted.

The Rev. Raphael Warnock, the Democrat who will be facing Loeffler in one of two U.S. Senate runoffs, asked for patience. “We got the time,” he tweeted. “Count every single ballot.”