A current Georgia lawmaker and a former state legislator face off Tuesday in a runoff election to determine who will take on Republican incumbent Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger in the fall.
Bee Nguyen (pronounced Win), who represents Georgia House District 89, topped the field of Democrats during a May 24 primary election. Nguyen finished with 44.32 percent of the vote.
In second place was former state House member Dee Dawkins-Haigler, who captured 18.67 percent of the vote. Because neither garnered more than 50 percent, a runoff is required.
The winner of their June 21 match-up will advance to face Raffensperger, who claimed 52.25 percent of the vote in a field of four in the Republican primary in May. Also on the ballot for the Nov. 8 general election are Ted Metz, a libertarian, and Brenda Nelson-Porter, a nonpartisan, write-in candidate.
Raffensperger triumphed in the first hurdle to keep his job despite former President Donald Trump’s aggressive campaign against him. Trump backed Raffensperger’s challenger Jody Hice, a Georgia congressman representing the 10th District.
Trump and Hice have maintained that Georgia’s 2020 election results were fraudulent and that Raffensperger should have done more to uncover the problems. The Georgia secretary of state oversees elections and certifies their results.
Trump and Hice aren’t alone in their concerns about election integrity in Georgia. A documentary released in May called “2000 Mules” illustrates how a Houston-based nonprofit believes election fraud occurred in Georgia, Arizona, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. All five were swing states won by Trump’s rival for the White House, Democrat Joe Biden.
True the Vote’s experts in election integrity spent more than a year analyzing cellphone data and surveillance videos of ballot drop boxes. They say they can show patterns of “illegal ballot trafficking” during the 2020 elections.
Raffensperger’s office started looking into the organization’s formal complaint about election fraud that was filed in November 2021, an attorney for the office told the State Elections Board about 10 days after the film’s release.
But the investigation was put on hold until True the Vote hands over requested information, attorney Ryan Germany explained. The organization balked until an informant’s protection could be guaranteed.
In May, voters in Georgia smashed records for early voting in the two weeks leading up to the state’s primary. But elections workers expected turnout for the upcoming runoff to be low.
Five days of early, in-person voting for Georgia’s primary runoffs began June 13. The first three days drew in only 66, 370 Georgians to vote in person, a report from the Secretary of State’s Office showed. Of those, 27,045 requested Republican ballots, and 38,485 asked to vote in Democratic races. The remaining voters asked for nonpartisan ballots with only nonpartisan races.
As of early June 16, 10,463 Georgians had voted by mail in the runoff, with twice as many returning Democratic ballots as Republican ballots.
In Georgia, voters don’t register as having a party affiliation and can choose the ballot they’d like to use during primary elections. Only candidates choose whether to have a party affiliation when they register to run for office.
The state had 7,004,034 voters as of December 2021. Early voting turnout for the runoff was running at about 1.1 percent.
Nguyen, who occupies the state House seat formerly held by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, lists more than 100 endorsements on her website. Abrams is one of those backing her campaign.
The daughter of Vietnamese refugees, Nguyen has highlighted her support of Black Lives Matter, and has campaigned on a plan to fight for “equity,” protect Georgians’ “freedom to vote,” and work to “ensure Georgia’s elections are always fair and secure.”
While serving in Georgia’s Legislative Assembly, she “successfully overturned the ‘exact match’ voter registration law and restored the right to vote for the 53,000 Georgians impacted by the policy,” her website states.
As secretary of state, Nguyen would work to use text messaging alert systems to reach voters, make sure election materials are translated into the languages voters speak, and “protect the election certification process by upholding the will of the people,” her website states.
Additionally, she would “develop kiosks to securely submit vote-by-mail applications and scan ID,” especially in areas with scarce broadband access, her website states. And she would “mitigate election disinformation, cybersecurity threats, and foreign interference with our elections.”
Nguyen hopes to remove “licensing barriers” for small businesses in the state and “strengthen opportunities” for entrepreneurs. She plans to “create a public registry of charities and securities known for fraudulent activities and regulate shell corporations that prey on seniors and other vulnerable Georgians to escape accountability.”
Nguyen did not respond to a request for an interview.
Her opponent, Dawkins-Haigler, is a wife, mother, and grandmother who served 8 1/2 years in the Georgia General Assembly. She is an author, documentary producer, and owner of a firm that helps women and minorities get elected to office or appointed to boards of directors. She has served as chairman of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus and the Georgia Women’s Legislative Caucus. She has led or founded numerous boards and organizations.
She also has served as the chaplain for the National Black Caucus of State Legislators and the national director of regional coordinators for the National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women. Her website states that she uses her bachelor’s degree and master’s “degrees to bridge the political, public, and religious communities and help them find solutions to eradicating racism, sexism, and classism.”
As secretary of state, she would work to “improve the professional licensing process,” create a task force to help minority business owners, and “secure the vote and increase voter participation,” her website states.
She did not respond to a request for an interview.