By comfortable margins, in a runoff election that had notably low turnout, Republican nominee Brad Raffensperger put away Democratic nominee John Barrow to win the secretary of state post, while GOP incumbent Chuck Eaton returns to serve another term on the state Public Service Commission, defeating Democratic nominee Lindy Miller.
Altogether — as of 10:30 p.m. with 97 percent of precincts reporting — only 21.49 percent of the electorate turned out, more than 1.38 million out of more than 6.43 million registered voters. More than 7,700 people who voted in the secretary of state race chose not to vote in the PSC race, for a collection of reasons that may include ballot confusion — Eaton will represent a Metro Atlanta district but is elected statewide — possible ignorance of the race or antipathy toward either one or both of the candidates.
While there was a little crossover, both races ended up relatively at the same place. Raffensperger took 53.21 percent of the vote to Barrow’s 46.79 percent. There had been hope in Democratic circles that a Barrow win would help level the playing field they claim was tilted against them by Gov.-elect Brian Kemp during his time as secretary of state.
Raffensperger, from Johns Creek, will be leaving his current position as the state representative from House District 50 to take the job. While voter concerns about fair and properly run elections came to dominate the later days of the campaign, when Raffensperger sat down with The News for an interview during the primaries, he said his top priorities included making it easier to run a business in the state.
“It’s really about how do you streamline regulations and corporations and also licensing,” Raffensperger said in April. “I’m a licensed civil engineer, and I design structures — and also a licensed general contractor — and so there’s over 130 different licenses and 40 different boards. I think I can bring something to that, and I also understand how important they are to people.”
Raffensperger has said throughout the campaign he wants to modernize the state’s electronic voting machines, ensure the machines that are used have appropriate technological safeguards and also that they provide a paper record.
Additionally, Raffensperger has said he doesn’t intend to seek higher office.
The Eaton-Miller race was consumed in the politics surrounding Plant Vogtle. Industry money lined up behind Eaton, though Miller out-raised him before the runoff.
While there were some high-profile defections among Republicans, since the issues don’t fall easily along party lines, the returns suggest a nearly 10 percent GOP turnout advantage, and those voters stayed with the party nominee. With the same 96 percent reporting, Eaton had 53.09 percent of the vote, while Miller claimed 46.91 percent.
Glynn County’s votes, as is typical, trended more Republican than the totals statewide. Raffensperger won 64.87 percent to Barrow’s 35.13 percent, and Eaton won with 65.04 percent of the vote versus Miller’s 34.96 percent. There were 11,129 votes cast in the county in the unofficial tally, which counted as a 20.51 percent turnout locally.