Transparency and the 2022 GOP Primaries in Georgia

I and many other Georgians have concerns regarding the validity of some of the results we saw in the 2022 Republican primaries. Two races that stand out to us, in particular, are the races for Governor and for Secretary of State.

Brian Kemp was polling at 51.8% right before the election, according to highly-rated polling company the Trafalgar Group. Two University of Georgia polls had Kemp at 53.3%,and 47.9%, and experienced Georgia pollster Landmark Communications had him at 52%. Despite all this, Brian Kemp finished with almost 74% of the primary vote.

This was a shocking result to many of us who follow Georgia politics closely. The explanation that was given for the discrepancy (over 20 points!) between pre-election polling and voting results was "crossover voting". In other words, large numbers of Democrats had "crossed over" and requested a Republican ballot in order to propel weaker Republican candidates to victory. This would give their Democrat candidate a better chance at winning the general election in November.

It is true that Kemp did much better than polling would indicate in some Democrat strongholds like Fulton and DeKalb, and at least some of this is likely due to crossover voting. Indeed, these counties have a massive pool of Democrat primary voters available who could be used for a crossover vote.

 

However, when we look at heavy Republican districts across the state, we see many surprisingly high Kemp vote totals there, as well. This means that crossover voting by Dems can't really explain the massive 74% number that Kemp pulled in the 2022 primary. Here are three sample "heavy red" counties, along with Kemp's 2022 primary results in that county:

  • Banks County

  • Bartow County​

  • Chatooga County​

 

Let's take, for example, Banks County. Donald Trump took almost 90% of the vote in Banks County in 2020, and Kemp garnered the same in 2018. There are not a lot of Democrats there -- only a tiny fraction of the Democrat percentages in a place like Fulton. Yet, Kemp was still able to greatly outperform his ~52% poll number by securing 66.27% in the Banks County 2022 primary. Could that be explained by Democrat crossover voting? Let's look at the numbers...

In the 2018 Democrat primary in Banks County, the absolute highest turnout for any race was 150

Even if every single one of those 150 Democrat voters came back in 2022 and crossed over to vote for Kemp, they would only account for adding ~1.5% to his result. How do we know that? Because, if we take these 150 hypothetical crossover voters out of the race, Kemp now receives 2330 out of 3592 primary votes (64.9%), instead of 2480 out of 3742 (66.27%). That's only about a 1.5% difference.

In reality, it looks like there was little (if any) crossover voting in Banks at all. The Democrat Governor primary in Banks had 152 votes cast in 2022. It therefore appears that not many Democrats in Banks County were pulling GOP ballots. In fact, their Democrat primary actually had slightly bigger turnout in 2022 than in 2018.

 

Our conclusion is that the actual numbers do not at all support crossover voting as an explanation for Kemp's elevated numbers in Banks County. When you perform the same analysis in Bartow and Chatooga counties, you get similar results. And I have only been looking at counties near the beginning of the alphabet. I'm sure we will find similar results in many counties across the state. 

The numbers are even more alarming in the Secretary of State race. Brad Raffensberger, who has been widely condemned by even establishment Republicans, somehow catapulted himself to over 52%, miles and miles ahead of his poll numbers. A Landmark Communications poll from early April had Raffensberger at ~18% and Trump-endorsed Jody Hice at 34.7%. He was at 29% in an Emerson/The Hill poll from that same month, along with 28.1% and 22.7% in two University of Georgia polls

 

Plus, these polls were conducted before the earth-shattering 2000 Mules documentary was released that exposed the massive ballot trafficking that occurred under Raffensberger's and Kemp's watch. Rather than having his numbers fall even further -- as common sense would suggest -- they somehow surged in the ensuing weeks prior to the election. On top of all this, there was actually a competitive Democrat primary for Secretary of State in 2022 -- greatly increasing the incentive for Dem voters to actually pull a Democrat ballot.

So, does Democrat crossover voting explain Raffensberger's surprising surge? Let's look at three "heavy red" Georgia counties and how Raffensberger performed in the 2022 primary:

  • Bacon County

  • Chatooga County

  • Catoosa County (MTG's county)​

    • ~77% Republican -- 52.10% for Raffensberger​

In Bacon County, Trump received ~86% of the vote in 2020, nearly the same as what Kemp received in 2018. Again, there are not a lot of Democrats here. Yet, Raffensberger was still able to greatly outperform his poll numbers by securing 48.36% in the Bacon County 2022 primary. Could that be explained by Democrat crossover voting? Let's look at the numbers...

In the 2018 Democrat primary in Bacon County, the absolute highest turnout for any race was 119

Even if every single one of those 119 Democrat voters came back in 2022 and crossed over to vote for Raffensberger, they would only account for adding ~3% to his result. How do we know that? Because, if we take these 119 hypothetical crossover voters out of the race, Raffensberger now receives 944 out of 2079 primary votes (45.4%), instead of receiving 1063 out of 2198 (48.36%). That is only about a 3% difference.

Again we see that it looks like there was little (if any) crossover voting in Bacon at all. The Democrat Secretary of State primary in Bacon had 150 votes cast in 2022. It therefore appears that not many Democrats in Bacon County were pulling GOP ballots. In fact, their Democrat primary actually had much bigger turnout in 2022 than in 2018. If we perform the same analysis in Chatooga and Catoosa counties, we get similar results.

Based on all these anomalies, Garland Favorito (VoterGA) has put in open records requests with every county in the state to obtain photocopies of original ballots from the 2022 GOP primary. So far, nearly all have resisted. This is totally unacceptable, as Georgia statute (O.C.G.A) 50-18-71 states that all public records are subject to disclosure within 3 business days unless specifically exempted by statute. O.C.G.A 50-18-72 lists all these exemptions, and ballots clearly don't fall into any of them.

 

We are concerned that the Secretary of State might be warning local elections offices not to allow access to these records. There is obviously a conflict of interest here, as Secretary of State Raffensberger has an incentive not to allow investigations into his own favorable result. However, we are urging all elections boards superintendents (and their custodians of records) to obey the law and comply with Mr. Favorito's request. Even if they are (for some reason) not convinced they are supposed to provide this access, they will not face liability so long as they are providing access in good faith, per O.C.G.A 50-18-73**. There is every reason in the world to do the right thing here.

We are also asking all citizens across the state (especially those with public platforms) to contact their county elections offices and encourage them to immediately comply with the open records request sent to them from Mr. Favorito. Once the elections are certified in eacy county -- which will happen any day now in counties across the state, if they haven't already been certified -- the election materials will be sent to the clerk of the superior court in each jurisdiction and they will become "sealed". Once this happens, it will require a court order to get access to these ballots. Thus, time is of the essence and we must all have a sense of urgency to secure transparency into this primary election. We learned from the 2020 election that if you wait until the ballots are already sealed, it not realistic to expect that a judge will have the integrity or backbone to unseal these ballots at a later date. We must seize this opportunity now as a state, or much of Georgia will never trust these implausible results and we will destroy ourselves from within. Call your elections office today (right now) and share this webpage everywhere on your social media. You will be doing a service to your state and country. Thank you.

** None of the above is legal advice.