Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Monday accused fellow Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) of suggesting he throw out some legally cast ballots in order to favor President Donald Trump as Raffensperger oversees an ongoing statewide vote recount amid the contested presidential election between Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.
What are the details?
Raffensperger made the claim during an interview with The Washington Post, telling the outlet that he spoke with Graham — a Trump ally and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee — on Friday.
The Post reported:
In their conversation, Graham questioned Raffensperger about the state's signature-matching law and whether political bias could have prompted poll workers to accept ballots with nonmatching signatures, according to Raffensperger. 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.
Raffspenger 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 claims, telling The Wall Street Journal in response, "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."
Raffensperger has faced heavy criticism from other fellow Republicans over how the general election has gone in his state, and told the Post he and his wife have both received death threats over the ordeal.
Georgia's secretary of state announced last week that a hand recount would be conducted after it appeared that Biden was the projected winner in the state by a slim lead of roughly 14,000 votes. "This will help build confidence," Raffensperger said at the time, according to NPR.
Mainstream media outlets roundly called the presidential race for Biden nationally, declaring him the projected winner with 306 electoral votes to Trump's projected 232. But Trump has refused to concede, while his campaign continues to contest the results in several states through litigation.
President Trump tweeted Friday, "Georgia Secretary of State, a so-called Republican (RINO), won't let the people checking the ballots see the signatures for fraud. Why? Without this the whole process is very unfair and close to meaningless. Everyone knows that we won the state. Where is [GOP Governor] @BrianKempGA?"
What did Rep. Doug Collins say?
On Monday morning, Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), who lost his bid to unseat another fellow Republican, Sen. Kelly Loeffler on Nov. 3, took to Twitter to slam Raffensperger, writing, "In a year of political division in Georgia, few things have unified Republicans and Democrats — one of them is Brad Raffensperger's incompetence as Secretary of State."
Collins, another strong Trump ally, was tapped by the president to advocate on his behalf as the Trump campaign alleges widespread voter fraud in the state.
But Raffensperger called Collins a "charlatan" during his interview with The Post, further telling the outlet, "I'm an engineer. We look at numbers. We look at hard data. I can't help it that a failed candidate like Collins is running around lying to everyone. He's a liar."