Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said on Monday that Republican leaders including Senator Lindsey Graham have been putting pressure on him to exclude legally cast mail-in ballots, a majority of which were in favor of President-elect Joe Biden, in order for President Donald Trump to be declared the winner and earn the state's 16 electoral votes.
In an interview with The Washington Post, Raffensperger said Graham, the chairman of the Senate judiciary committee, questioned him about the state's signature-matching laws and asked whether political bias may have played a role in counties where poll workers accepted higher rates of mismatched signatures.
According to Raffensperger, Graham then asked whether he had the authority to toss out all mail-in ballots in those counties. Raffspenger said he was "stunned" by the question, in which Graham appeared to suggest that he find a way to invalidate legally cast ballots.
Graham Denies Allegations
Graham had denied allegations that he pressured Raffensperger to find ways to toss out legal votes, noting that he was just trying to figure out the process for verifying signatures in the state because what happens in Georgia "affects the whole nation."
"What I'm trying to find out was how do you verify signatures for mail-in ballots in these states," Graham told reporters on Monday. "I thought it was a good conversation. I'm surprised to hear him characterize it that way."
Raffensperger Faces Criticism from Republicans
Trump has refused to concede the presidential election to Biden, claiming that the election was "rigged" and he lost due to widespread voter fraud.
Congressman Doug Collins of Georgia, who is leading the president's effort to prove fraud in the state, has also been critical of Raffensberger, accusing him of siding with Democrats because he refused to endorse the false claim that the election was stolen from Trump. In the interview, Raffensberger called Collins a "liar" and a "charlatan."
Raffensberger said every accusation of voter fraud would be thoroughly vetted but there was currently no credible evidence that wrongdoing had occurred on a large enough scale to affect the outcome of the election. He also told the Post that the recount would "affirm" the results of the initial count and prove the accuracy of the Dominion voting machines, which Trump has falsely claimed deleted votes cast for him.
Georgia, a reliably Republican state with 16 electoral votes, is currently conducting a hand recount of roughly 5 million presidential ballots, which is expected to be completed by 20 November. Biden's lead in the state was about 14,000 votes after the initial tally.
More than 2,600 ballots that had not originally been tallied were unearthed in Georgia's Floyd County during the recount, adding 800 votes to Trump's tally.