Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who has been under fire from fellow Republicans, leveled a damning accusation against Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., in a Washington Post interview, claiming the lawmaker suggested that legal ballots in his state be thrown out.
Yet, when pressed Monday by anchor Wolf Blitzer during an appearance on CNN about Graham’s exact words, Raffensperger was suddenly vague, talking more about implications and impressions than actual words.
“He asked if the ballots could be matched back to the voters,” Raffensperger replied. “I got the sense that it implied that then you could throw those out, if you look at the counties with the highest frequent error of signatures. So that’s the impression that I got.”
After speaking on the signature-matching process in place in Georgia, Raffensperger was asked again about his accusation.
“I want to be clear,” Blitzer said. “You say Senator Graham wanted you to find ways to get rid of legally cast ballots. CNN asked him about these allegations. He denied them and said that’s ridiculous. His words, ‘That’s ridiculous.'”
“Well, it’s just an implication of look hard and see how many ballots you could throw out,” Raffensperger said, with a shrug of the shoulder. “I think they’re looking at that as part of a court case and one was subsequently filed, wasn’t it?”
For a Republican, the Georgia official’s choice of networks to appear on is instructive.
Raffensperger told the Post that Graham questioned him about signature-matching laws in place in Georgia and whether politically motivated poll workers could accept ballots with non-matching signatures.
More from the newspaper:
Graham also asked whether Raffensperger had the power to toss all mail ballots in counties found to have higher rates of nonmatching signatures, Raffensperger said.
[Raffensperger] said he was stunned that Graham appeared to suggest that he find a way to toss legally cast ballots. Absent court intervention, Raffensperger doesn’t have the power to do what Graham suggested, as counties administer elections in Georgia.
“It sure looked like he was wanting to go down that road,” he said.
Graham denied Raffensperger’s claim that he pressured him to find ways to toss out legal votes, explaining he thought the state had “some protections that maybe other states don’t have.”
“What I’m trying to find out was how do you verify signatures for mail-in ballots in these states,” Graham told reporters, according to The Hill. “I thought it was a good conversation. I’m surprised to hear him characterize it that way.”
Graham responds, via @siobhanehughes:
"That's ridiculous … what I'm trying to find out was how do you verify signatures for mail in ballots in these states … I thought it was a good conversation, I'm surprised to hear him characterize it that way." https://t.co/ecxP2L2E1v
— Ben Siegel (@bensiegel) November 16, 2020
Sens. David Purdue and Kelly Loeffler, both Republicans from Georgia, have called Raffenspenger’s management of Georgia elections “an embarrassment for our state.”
The senators are now in a fierce run-off battle to retain their seats and they took the “extraordinary step” of calling for Raffenspenger’s resignation, the New York Times reported.
“We believe when there are failures, they need to be called out — even when it’s in your own party,” the senators said in a joint statement.
“The mismanagement and lack of transparency from the Secretary of State is unacceptable,” the release added. “Honest elections are paramount to the foundation of our democracy. The Secretary of State has failed to deliver honest and transparent elections. He has failed the people of Georgia, and he should step down immediately.”
Rep. Doug Collins, R-Ga., who was tapped by the Trump campaign to lead its vote recount team in the state, has also been critical of Raffensperger, as has David Shafer, chair of the Georgia Republican Party.
Congressman Doug @CollinsforGA and I wrote today to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger describing the election irregularities which cause us concern. We also provided his office with sworn testimony supporting our concerns. https://t.co/DdVyEJO9C5
— David Shafer (@DavidShafer) November 11, 2020
Raffensperger responded by calling the Republican lawmaker a “liar.”
“I can’t help it that a failed candidate like Doug Collins is running around lying to everyone. He’s a liar,” the secretary of state said — Collins lost to Loeffler in a special election.
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