Georgia secretary of state: Witnesses heard Lindsey Graham urge me to ‘throw out’ absentee ballots

Georgia secretary of state: Witnesses heard Lindsey Graham urge me to ‘throw out’ absentee ballots
Photo via Screengrab.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a conservative, has been coming under fire from fellow Republicans who are furious that President-elect Joe Biden won Georgia in the 2020 presidential election. One of those Republicans is Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. And according to Raffensperger, Graham demanded to know why he isn't doing more to get absentee ballots thrown out. Graham has claimed that Raffensperger mischaracterized their conversation, but the Georgia secretary of state says that two members of his staff can back him up.

Raffensperger told CBS News, "Sen. Graham implied for us to audit the envelopes and then throw out the ballots for counties who had the highest frequency error of signatures." Graham, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, denies telling Raffensperger that. But at a press conference this week, Raffensperger told reporters, "That's just ridiculous. If he feels threatened by that conversation, he's got a problem. I actually thought it was a good conversation."

Raffensperger told the Wall Street Journal that two staff members who heard his phone conversation with Graham can back up his account of the senator's statements.

According to WSJ reporter Alexa Corse, "Mr. Raffensperger said that when he was contacted by Mr. Graham (on) Friday, he thought the senator was calling about the state's two Senate races. After an initial conversation, Mr. Graham called back again and brought up the idea of invalidating absentee ballots from counties with higher rates of signature errors, Mr. Raffensperger said, adding that he had staffers with him on that call. Mr. Raffensperger and his staffers agreed not to act on any of Mr. Graham's suggestions, he said. 'We have laws in place,' he said."

Corse notes that Raffensperger has "come under public criticism from President Trump and his supporters over the recount process" and that two GOP senators from Georgia, Sen. David Perdue and Sen. Kelly Loeffler, have been calling for his resignation.

Trump supporters have been slamming Raffensperger as a RINO: Republican in Name Only. But the Georgia secretary of state told the Journal, "I am absolutely Republican. I have never voted for a Democrat. Where would I go?"

CNN reporters Wes Bruer and Marshall Cohen cite Gabriel Sterling, an election implementation manager in Georgia, as a witness who can back up Raffensperger's description of his phone conversation with Graham.

Sterling told CNN, "What I heard was basically discussions about absentee ballots and…. if there was a percentage of signatures that weren't really, truly matching, is there some point we could get to, we could say somebody (who) went to a courtroom could say, 'Well, let's throw (out) all these ballots because we have no way of knowing because the ballots are separated.'"

Sterling went on to say, "The president is going to continue to fight, his supporters continue to fight. Our job is to continue to follow the law, and we were answering process questions…. That's what we were doing on the call."

After Georgia was called for Joe Biden, the president-elect reached a total of 306 electoral votes.

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