They told Americans, who were zeroed in on a close race, how many ballots were left to be counted, and they featured quotes from Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R). For an information-ravenous public and press, they provided crucial details.
But they also sported a disciplined message. In release after release, the number of votes in the headline changes but it ends the same way: “OFFICIALS FOCUSED ON GETTING IT RIGHT.”
As of Friday evening, the secretary of state’s office had posted at least 13 releases that ended with that reassuring phrase — even as Trump and his allies sought to undermine Georgia’s ballot-counting process, baselessly accusing elections officials of rigging the results.
The frequent releases offer a strategic communications case study: When what you’re saying is important, repeat it again and again.
But they are also more examples of elections officials staying calm — and, yes, focused — in the face of incredible scrutiny, criticism and unfounded accusations.
On Friday, Raffensperger said at a news conference that “emotions are high on all sides.”
“We will not let those debates distract us from our work,” he said. “We’ll get it right.”
On Thursday, Gabriel Sterling, the agency’s voting system implementation manager, responded to a question about the president’s accusations by saying, “Be patient.”
This was a normal process, he said, and nobody had rigged anything.
“I think if somebody was going to try to rig a system, you’d see something that’s less close than this,” Sterling said.
The officials here are not Democrats, and the president would have even more difficulty painting them as part of a left-wing conspiracy — as he has falsely done elsewhere. In fact, the officials in this conservative government are largely his supporters. And he once supported them.
“Brad Raffensperger will be a fantastic Secretary of State for Georgia,” Trump tweeted in November 2018. “It is really important that you get out and vote for Brad.”