Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham is rejecting claims of any wrongdoing after being accused by Georgia’s secretary of state of suggesting that he found a way to discard legal absentee ballots.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger alleged in an interview with the Washington Post published Monday that in a conversation with Graham (R-S.C.) on Friday, the powerful senator questioned him about the state’s signature-matching law.
Specifically, Graham asked if political bias could have led poll workers to accept ballots without matching signatures before questioning if Raffensperger had the power to not count all mail ballots in counties with higher rates of nonmatching signatures.
Speaking to the newspaper, Raffensperger said he was “stunned” that Graham suggest he toss legal ballots for being in counties with higher rates of nonmatching signatures.
“It sure looked like he was wanting to go down that road,” the top state election official said.
Reached by the newspaper Monday evening, Graham denied Raffensperger’s characterization of events while acknowledging that the two did speak.
The South Carolina Republican explained that he sought out Raffensperger on his own to understand the signature-matching law.
“The main issue for me is: How do you protect the integrity of mail-in voting, and how does signature verification work?” he said, adding that, “If he feels threatened by that conversation, he’s got a problem. I actually thought it was a good conversation.”
Raffensperger doubled down on his accusation when pressed on the matter during an appearance Monday on CNN, telling host Wolf Blitzer that he was holding firm to his position that Graham was implying he trash legal ballots.
“He asked if the ballots could be matched back to the voters. And then he, I got the sense 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,” Raffensperger told the network.
“It was just an implication of, ‘Look hard and see how many ballots you could throw out,’” he continued.
Graham maintained his denial when reached by the network for comment, calling the accusations “ridiculous” and saying that he wanted to understand how signatures were verified on mail-in-ballots.
“What I’m trying to find out was how do you verify signatures on mail-in ballots in these states that are the center of attention? So, like, when you mail in a ballot, you got to have some way to verify that the signature on the envelope actually matches the person who requested the ballot. It seems to me that Georgia has some protections that maybe other states don’t have, where you go into the portal to get your ballot,” Graham said of his motive, adding, “But I thought it was a good conversation. I’m surprised to hear him vilify it that way.”
“So they expanded mail-in voting, and how you verify the signatures to me is the big issue. If you’re going to have mail-in voting, you’ve got to verify that the person who signed the envelope is also the person who requested the ballot,” he continued, showing that he had gotten his explanation from Raffensperger on how the process worked.
Representatives for Graham could not immediately be reached by The Post for comment.
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