Georgia election official tells President Trump, GOP senators: ‘You need to step up’

Gabriel Sterling lashed out at President Donald Trump and Georgia's two Republican senators for not speaking out about threats elections officials are receiving as the presidental recount continues.
Gabriel Sterling lashed out at President Donald Trump and Georgia's two Republican senators for not speaking out about threats elections officials are receiving as the presidental recount continues. (WJXT)

ATLANTA – Gabriel Sterling, the voting systems manager for the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, was visibly angry Tuesday afternoon during a news conference that was supposed to be about the state’s ongoing recount of the state’s 5 million presidential votes. Sterling said he is fed up with the harassment and threats his boss, his co-workers and their spouses and even election workers in individual counties are facing.

“It has to stop. Mr. President, you have not condemned these actions or this language. Senators you haven’t condemned this language or actions. This has to stop,” Sterling said. “We need you to step up. If you’re going to take a position of leadership, show some.”

Sterling said he is a lifelong Republican and fully supports Sen. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, who are both facing runoffs, but called them out for not asking their supporters to stop making threats against Georgia’s election workers.

“…Death threats, physical threats, intimidation is too much. It’s not right. They’ve lost the moral high ground,” Sterling said of the Republicans who are attacking Georgia’s election integrity.

People have been driving in caravans past Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s home, have come onto his property and have sent sexualized threats to his wife’s cellphone, said Sterling. Raffensperger and Sterling both have police stationed outside their homes, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation has said it’s investigating possible threats against officials to determine their credibility.

Sterling said his anger boiled over when he learned that a 20-year-old contractor with Dominion Voting Systems who was helping with the recount effort in suburban Gwinnett County received death threats after someone shot video of him transferring a report to a county computer and that video was posted online claiming it showed him trying to manipulate data.

“There’s a noose out there with his name on it. That’s not right,” an emotional Sterling said, adding that the contractor didn’t seek the spotlight by taking a high-profile position like Sterling or run for office like Raffensperger. “This kid took a job. He just took a job. People started accusing him of treason.”

Sterling also directly challenged the president.

“Be the bigger man here and step in and tell your supporters to stop,” Sterling said.

News4Jax asked the Trump campaign for a response and received this statement attributed to Trump 2020 Communications Director Tim Murtaugh:

But the president himself didn’t moderate his rhetoric in a tweet Tuesday night.

The campaigns for Republican U.S. Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler both issued statements Tuesday evening condemning violence but also criticizing election officials, according to news outlets.

“Like many officials, as someone who has been the subject of threats, of course Senator Loeffler condemns violence of any kind. How ridiculous to even suggest otherwise,” Loeffler campaign spokesman Stephen Lawson said. “We also condemn inaction and lack of accountability in our election system process — and won’t apologize for calling it out.”

Later in Wednesday’s conference, Sterling did give an update on the recount, saying more than 90 of the state’s 169 counties have completed the process and the others are on target to meet the midnight Wednesday deadline. So far, no major anomalies have been found, he said.

Information from the Associated Press and WAGA-TV in Atlanta contributed to this report.


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