Georgia’s Top Election Official Says Lindsey Graham Suggested He Toss Legal Ballots

Brad Raffensperger claimed that several Trump supporters in Congress, including Sen. Lindsey Graham & Rep. Doug Collins, are challenging the recounting process by questioning the integrity of poll workers and signature-matching.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) Chairman of the oversight committee attends a meeting on November 10, 2020 in Washington, D.C. | Getty Images
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) Chairman of the oversight committee attends a meeting on November 10, 2020 in Washington, D.C. | Getty Images

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Republican elected officials, including Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA), have questioned the legitimacy of the state’s recount process, and claimed that Graham suggested legal ballots be thrown out. Raffensperger also said he’s received anonymous death threats related to the recounting process, after Joe Biden was narrowly projected the state’s winner in the presidential election, flipping it blue for the first time in 20 years.

In interviews with both the Washington Post and CNN, Raffensperger, a Republican, said the unfounded theories of voter fraud from President Trump and other GOP allies have made the democratic process “contentious.” The secretary of state said he received a text that said: “You better not botch this recount. Your life depends on it.”

Georgia officials are expected to conclude their audit of votes by the end of November 18.  President-elect Biden won the state by nearly 14,000 votes, according to the New York Times, and observers don’t expect a recount to change the results. 

In the Post interview, Raffensperger claimed that Graham implied he should “throw out” legally casted ballots and scrutinized the state’s signature-matching process for mail-in votes. According to Raffensperger, Graham questioned the legitimacy of the process, claiming poll workers' political bias may have led them to count ballots with incorrect signatures. 

According to the Post, Graham denied asserting that ballots be thrown out, but said he spoke with Raffensperger about the signature-matching process. 

“If he feels threatened by that conversation, he’s got a problem,” Graham told the Post. “I actually thought it was a good conversation.”

Raffensperger appeared on CNN’s The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer on Monday and reiterated that Graham was insinuating he throw out as many ballots as he could.

“He asked if the ballots could be matched back to the voters,” Raffensperger said in the interview. “It was just an implication of, ‘look hard and see how many ballots you could throw out.’”

Democratic elected officials have called on Graham to resign if the allegation is true. 

Raffensperger also called Rep. Collins a “liar” for backing Trump and other GOP members’ theories that voter fraud took place in the state. Collins has repeatedly questioned the secretary of state’s competency while leading the state’s recount effort in Georgia for the Trump campaign.

Trump supporter and lawyer Lin Wood filed a lawsuit against Georgia last week also challenging the signature process. In a series of tweets, Wood called the recounting process a “sham” and accused election officials of only “counting votes cast, not checking for validation & not checking signatures.”

On Monday, President Trump tweeted about the signature matching process in Georgia writing, “Georgia won’t let us look at the all important signature match.” The tweet was flagged by Twitter with a warning that said “This claim about election fraud is disputed.”

Despite the Trump campaign’s baseless claims that voter fraud took place in the 2020 election, no state official has proven that anything illegal occurred. Trump allies have filed several lawsuits in the aftermath of the election, and judges in multiple states have thrown out almost all of them.

In Georgia, two runoff Senate races in January will also determine the future majority of the Senate.

Last week, the two Republican incumbents called on Raffensperger to resign, alleging without evidence that a lack of transparency and mismanagement hindered “honest and transparent elections.” Raffensperger brushed off the allegation as “laughable.”