Georgia’s secretary of state has received death threats over his handling of last month’s election, but he has found a fan in Arnold Schwarzenegger.
“We are big admirers of yours, and you will go down in history for being a good guy, a good public servant,” the actor and former California governor told Brad Raffensperger on a Zoom call on Tuesday.
The call was organised by the USC Schwarzenegger Institute for State and Global Policy at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. The institute promotes post-partisanship and urges leaders to put policy over politics, according to its website.
Mr Schwarzenegger explained to Mr Raffensperger the institute planned to bestow Democracy Action Hero awards next week over Zoom.
“I just want to ask you if you would be kind enough to accept one of those awards that we are giving out because it is only for Democracy Action Heroes and you are a Democracy Action Hero, so we would love to give you that award,” Mr Schwarzenegger said.
“Thank you very much. Yes, I will accept,” Mr Raffensperger said. “Governor, honestly, we’re just trying to run an election, just follow the process, follow the law. We didn’t set out to earn any awards.”
Mr Raffensperger, a Republican, has repeatedly been criticised by President Donald Trump for his handling of the election since Democrat Joe Biden won the state. Mr Raffensperger has said he and his family have received death threats and police were stationed at his home.
Gabriel Sterling, a top official in Mr Raffensperger’s office, made national headlines last week when he called on the president to condemn the ugly rhetoric surrounding the election and the violent threats that have resulted.
Mr Raffensperger on Monday recertified the results of the state’s presidential race after a recount requested by Mr Trump affirmed Mr Biden’s win by a margin of just less than 12,000 votes.
Mr Schwarzenegger told Mr Raffensperger his institute focuses on improving the system — working on convincing people to vote, increasing the number of polling sites and fighting voter suppression and gerrymandering.
In September, it launched a program to provide nonpartisan grants to state and local election officials to reopen polling stations that were closed because of a lack of funding.