ATLANTA — The day after Georgia's primary election, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said he proposing to the General Assembly legislation that will allow the state to intervene and "look into failing elections offices."
All eyes were on Georgia as the nation watched voters complain about hours-long lines and other problems at the polls, with many issues reported in Fulton and DeKalb counties.
On Tuesday, Raffensperger blamed the issues on county leaders. In a statement on Wednesday, he didn't back away from the comments. He said its up to the county election boards to properly train poll workers and handle the voting system.
"The Secretary of State’s Office cannot administer elections, every Georgia county is charged with that responsibility," the statement reads. "But what is clear from yesterday, is that while almost every county delivered successful elections—a couple did not."
He said he's working with the General Assembly on proposing legislation that will give the state more authority to intervene. He also said a thorough investigation into what happened in Fulton County would be done.
Richard Barron, Fulton County election chief, said many problems were due to COVID-19. The pandemic impacted poll locations and training. However, he disagrees that the responsibility for Fulton's problems falls only on them.
"He can say whatever he wants, I disagree with him. I think he's the head election official in the state and he can't wash his hands of all the responsibility," said Barron previously.
On Tuesday, DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond said if there was a failure of leadership, "it starts where the buck should stop, at the top." DeKalb is also under investigation; the state wants to determine what the county needs to do to resolve the issues before the November election.
But on Wednesday, Thurmond said hopes to meet with Raffensperger in the next couple of days to work out how the two of them can work together to repair the voting process before November.
“We have to move beyond finger-pointing and partisan politics, and put the best interests of the voters first," he said.
Read the secretary of state's full statement from Wednesday below:
“As the Secretary of State, I will continue to work with our county elections boards and directors to train them to properly deliver, install and maintain our voting system. It is clear that some counties continue to not perform. It is the responsibility of the counties to properly deliver and install equipment. It is the responsibility of the counties to properly train its poll workers.
The Secretary of State’s Office cannot administer elections, every Georgia county is charged with that responsibility. But what is clear from yesterday, is that while almost every county delivered successful elections—a couple did not.
I am working with the General Assembly to help give the State greater authority to directly intervene and require management changes as well as call for the counties themselves to pay for the remedial action. My office’s POST-certified law enforcement officers will undertake a complete and thorough investigation into what happened in Fulton County, including not just what happened yesterday but also any improperly handled absentee ballot applications.
We are here to protect every voter. Republicans, Democrats and Independents deserve well run elections. That is why we are proposing to the General Assembly legislation that will enable the state to intervene and look into failing elections offices, when it’s clear there are continued failures.”