Georgia elections official says Lindsey Graham looked for way to exclude some legal ballots

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Georgia’s top elections official said on Monday that Sen. Lindsey Graham implicitly proposed he toss out legally mailed ballots in his state, as Republicans seek ways to sway election results in the state in President Donald Trump’s favor.

Speaking with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on Monday evening, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said the South Carolina Republican asked whether he could check signatures on mail-in ballots during Georgia’s recount and use a high frequency of mismatches to justify throwing away mail-in ballots in certain counties. Raffensperger said he took Graham’s comments as “an implication of look hard and see how many ballots you could throw out.”

Graham denied pressuring Raffensperger to throw away legal ballots, telling POLITICO that he had simply had a “very pleasant” conversation about the state’s signature verification process.

The Washington Post first reported their conversation, which reportedly took place on Friday — the same day a Georgia lawyer sympathetic to Trump filed a lawsuit to prevent the state from certifying the election until all signatures could be verified. When presented with Graham’s denial on CNN, Raffensperger pointed out that the lawsuit sought to use a tactic similar to the one Graham proposed to stop the inclusion of absentee ballots in the state.

Georgia wound up being one of the key battlegrounds of the 2020 presidential election, with a razor-thin margin that eventually tipped in Democrat Joe Biden’s favor. But Trump has refused to concede and has gone after election officials in critical states — including Georgia — with conspiracy theories that the race was stolen from him.

During his CNN interview, Raffensperger balked at the idea of tossing legally cast ballots, and rejected the notion that election workers were not thoroughly verifying votes.

“We feel confident the election officials did their job,” Raffensperger said.

Raffensperger also said he was surprised by the vitriol from his fellow Republicans toward his performance verifying the election. His wife has received menacing messages on her cellphone relating to the election, he told Blitzer. Raffensperger and his wife have been isolating after she was diagnosed with coronavirus.

“You always think, I’m on this side of the aisle, obviously, and you always think your side wears the white hats,” Raffensperger said. “But people are really upset about this.”

He added: “I’m going to probably be disappointed because I was rooting for the Republicans to win, obviously. But I have a law and a process I follow. Integrity in this office matters.”

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