The Slatest

The Georgia Secretary of State Says Lindsey Graham Suggested He Find a Way to Toss Out Select Ballots

Sen. Lindsey Graham holds up his hand while speaking into a microphone during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
Lindsey Graham to Georgia: Stop the count! Susan Walsh/Getty Images

Republican Brad Raffensperger, the Georgia secretary of state, is under immense pressure from his own party to somehow, some way come up with something to reverse the result of the presidential result in the state. Georgia is, of course, no stranger to voter suppression and administered a shambolic primary election midpandemic this summer that saw polling places understaffed and systems overwhelmed, as voters waited in hourslong lines. Over the next five months, however, the state managed to largely get its act together and accommodate voters via mail-in, early, and regular old Election Day voting. And—surprise, surprise!—a Democrat won over a majority of voters en route to carrying the state in the presidential race for the first time in forever.

What we’ve seen in the aftermath of the 2020 election is that instinct to subvert and disenfranchise is embedded at a cellular level in the Republican Party. The latest example of this comes from Raffensperger himself, who told the Washington Post on Monday that it’s not just the GOP’s galactically corrupt president who’s leaning hard to find a way to undo the result, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has pressured the secretary of state to find a way to discard legally cast ballots. “It sure looked like he was wanting to go down that road,” Raffensperger told the Post.

From the Washington Post:

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. Raffensperger 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 because counties administer elections in Georgia.

Graham told the Post he was shocked—downright shocked!—that Raffensperger would interpret his line of inquiry as an effort to void votes due to signature technicalities, say, in districts that might not have been favorable to Trump. Because that would never … wait—it’s a tactic that’s not even that creative, as the proverbial signature mismatch is a common tool of voter suppression in Georgia. In 2018, the Georgia GOP used the signature mismatch justification—based on trumped up claims about potential voter fraud—to allow the state to discard numerous ballots because of an amateur poll worker’s assessment of a voter’s signature on an absentee ballot. The state’s voter laws were so onerous that they were the source of a wave of lawsuits last cycle. This was the handiwork of now-Gov. Brian Kemp, who was secretary of state at the time and oversaw the very election he also happen to be running in.