- Perdue, who has backed Trump’s debunked election claims, is following the lead of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
- Perdue has made election integrity a key part of his intraparty challenge to Gov. Brian Kemp.
Georgia Republican gubernatorial candidate David Perdue on Thursday pledged to create a new police unit that would probe voter fraud, forging ahead with a direct appeal to supporters of former President Donald Trump who continue to question the validity of the 2020 presidential election, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Perdue — who served in the US Senate from 2015 until January 2021 and launched an intraparty campaign against Gov. Brian Kemp last December with the support of Trump — said that the law enforcement unit would “give Georgians confidence that only legal votes will be counted.”
Perdue also said that he would push for state election results to be “independently audited” before certification.
Kemp — a onetime ally of Trump — has been castigated by the former president for over a year for certifying the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia, which the governor was required to officiate by law after now-President Joe Biden’s victory in the former Republican stronghold.
Perdue’s push to establish an “Election Law Enforcement Division” in Georgia came during the same week that Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida unveiled details for a election police force, which elicited broad opposition from Democrats.
DeSantis has asked state lawmakers to provide $5.7 million for the new unit, which would give the state’s executive branch increased power over election investigations, according to a CNN report.
The proposal from Perdue comes as the Republican candidate has continued to rail against Georgia’s election administration, calling for absentee ballots to be inspected in Democratic-heavy Fulton County and insisting that he would have declined to certify the state’s election results if he had been governor.
In 2020, Biden defeated Trump in Georgia by 11,779 votes out of nearly 5 million ballots cast; the president received 2,473,633 votes, or 49.5%, while Trump earned 2,461,854 votes, or 49.2%.
Trump has relentlessly inserted himself into Georgia politics — even pushing for Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” votes to overturn Biden’s statewide victory — and backed Perdue’s candidacy after Kemp refused to entertain the former president’s election-related pressure campaign.
“Leave it to a 20-year career politician like Kemp to sit on his hands when we needed him most,” Perdue said on Thursday in criticizing the governor. “He failed us, and Georgians lost confidence that their vote would count.”
It is unclear how the new police unit would be structured, but Perdue said that it would look into election crimes and give Georgia voters a sense of security regarding the integrity of the vote.
After three presidential ballot counts in Georgia and the failure of multiple lawsuits initiated by Trump campaign attorneys in court — along with conspiracy theories centered on illegal ballots in suitcases and deceased voters participating in the election — no evidence of mass voter fraud has surfaced in the critical swing state.
Last year, the Republican-controlled legislature passed the Election Integrity Act of 2021, or SB 202, the highly-controversial voting law which restricts ballot drop boxes to early voting sites and limits their usage to voting hours, and narrows the window for requesting an absentee ballot, among other measures.
Kemp spokesman Cody Hall last week told the Journal-Constitution that Perdue’s plan shows that “his entire campaign is a lie.”
“His proposal recognizes that governors have no legal authority in the oversight, administration or investigation of elections under current state law and constitution,” he said.
In November, the winner of the Republican gubernatorial primary will face former Democratic state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams — one of the nation’s most prominent voting-rights activists and the party’s gubernatorial nominee in 2018. That year, Kemp narrowly defeated Abrams by a 50.2%-48.8% margin, or 1.4 percentage points.
The results produced the smallest margin in a Georgia gubernatorial election since 1966.