Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) denied claims that he pressured Georgia’s secretary of state to find ways to throw out legal ballots, telling reporters Monday that it’s “ridiculous” to interpret their conversation that way.
Graham, one of the Republicans pushing outgoing President Donald Trump’s unsubstantiated claims about voter fraud in the Nov. 3 election, commented on the matter after Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger gave an interview to The Washington Post saying Graham asked him Friday if Raffensperger could toss out all the mail-in ballots in counties with higher rates of signature-matching issues.
Graham, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, denied that’s what he said.
“I think that’s just ridiculous. If he feels threatened by that conversation, he’s got a problem. I actually thought it was a good conversation,” he said, adding he was only suggesting Georgia enforce a stricter signature verification process.
“I never said that,” he said of Raffensperger’s statement. “I said, ‘Do you have power as secretary of state to require bipartisan verification of the signature,’ because right now they don’t. What I want to see happen all over the country, if we’re going to use mail-in voting … is that when it comes to verifying signatures, that you have a process that’s bipartisan, where both sides can look at the signature. If there’s a dispute about whether or not you think it’s valid, you put it in some kind of appeal system.”
Raffensperger, a Republican, told the Post that it was clear to him that Graham was suggesting he find a way to throw out ballots.
“It sure looked like he was wanting to go down that road,” he said. After Graham’s response came out, he stood by his assertion on CNN.
“The implication is ‘Look hard and see how many ballots you can throw,’” he said.
Since Trump lost his bid for reelection, Graham has been part of the GOP chorus questioning the integrity of the electoral process and expressing outrage at the media for calling the winner based on results released by the states, despite that being the case in all modern elections. In 2016, for example, Democratic challenger Hillary Clinton conceded to Trump the day after the election, based on vote projections, even though final tallies were days or even weeks away in several states.
“This is a contested election,” Graham said on Fox News last week. “The media doesn’t decide who becomes president. If they did, you would never have a Republican president forever. So we’re discounting them.”
He added: “If I were President Trump, I’d take all of this to court. I’d fight back. …. If we don’t fight back in 2020, we’re never going to win again presidentially. A lot’s at stake here.”