Republican Brad Raffensperger was a no-show for an Atlanta Press Club debate with Democrat John Barrow for the runoff for secretary of state.
The debate aired Tuesday on Georgia Public Broadcasting. Raffensperger claimed he had a scheduling conflict, but the press club said it had been trying to negotiate a date and time for almost three weeks.
His absence allowed Barrow—a former congressman and Harvard Law graduate—to run roughshod over an empty podium as he contrasted himself with both Raffensperger and Gov.-elect Brian Kemp, who was widely criticized for voter suppression as secretary of state while overseeing his own election.
"We have to elect somebody who's committed to fixing the things that are wrong with our elections and not pretending they didn't happen, because it wasn't a big deal to some folks, because it didn't happen to me or my team," Barrow said.
"We've got to fix all the things that are wrong with our elections, and this election has brought out a lot of things that are wrong with our election—an exact match program that involves a failure to communicate between the Department of Driver Services and the secretary of state's office; a purge program that purged a lot of folks who moved or died, but also purges a lot of people who haven't gone anywhere and weren't notified of what was happening to them until they get there on Election Day," he said. "We need to elect somebody who's committed to fixing these problems."
Barrow called for decertifying Georgia's antiquated voting machines and promised to recuse himself from overseeing the election if he runs for re-election or another office while secretary of state.
He also lit into Raffensperger for his failure to pay taxes and accused Raffensperger of lying about Barrow's stance on voter ID. (Barrow says he supports it.)
The runoff date is Dec. 4, and early voting is underway now.