WASHINGTON (AP) — Diane Murray struggled with her decision all the way up to Election Day.
But when the time came, the 54-year-old Georgia Democrat cast a ballot in last week’s Republican primary for Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. While state law allowed her to participate in either party’s primary, she said it felt like a violation of her core values to vote for the Republican. But it had to be done, she decided, to prevent a Donald Trump -backed “election denier” from becoming the battleground state’s election chief.
“I feel strongly that our democracy is at risk, and that people who are holding up the big lie, as we call it, and holding onto the former president are dangerous to democracy,” said Murray, who works at the University of Georgia. “I don’t know I’ll do it again because of how I felt afterward. I just felt icky.”
Raffensperger, a conservative who refused to support the former president’s direct calls to overturn the 2020 election, probably would not have won the May 24 Republican primary without people like Murray.
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An Associated Press analysis of early voting records from data firm L2 found that more than 37,000 people who voted in Georgia’s Democratic primary two years ago cast ballots in last week’s Republican primary, an unusually high number of so-called crossover voters. Even taking into account the limited sample of early votes, the data reveal that crossover voters were consequential in defeating Trump’s hand-picked candidates for secretary of state and, to a lesser extent, governor.
Gov. Brian Kemp did not ultimately need Democrats in his blowout victory against his Trump-backed opponent, but Raffensperger probably did. The Republican secretary of state cleared the 50% threshold required to avoid a runoff election by just over 27,000 votes, according to the latest AP tallies. Based on early voting data alone, 37,144 former Democrats voted in the Republican primary. The total number of crossovers including Election Day votes, set to be revealed in the coming weeks, may be even higher.
Crossover voting, also known as strategic voting, is not exclusive to Georgia this primary season as voters across the political spectrum work to stop Trump-backed extremists from winning control of state and federal governments. The phenomenon is playing out in multiple primary contests, sometimes organically and sometimes in response to a coordinated effort by Trump’s opponents.