Georgian Secretary of State said Republicans asked him to throw ballots to help Trump win

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Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said on Monday he had come under increasing pressure in recent days from fellow Republicans, including Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, to question the validity of the postal votes legally cast in an attempt to overturn President Donald Trump’s measure. loss in the state.

In a broad election interview, Raffensperger expressed his exasperation over a series of baseless allegations from Trump and his allies about the integrity of Georgia’s results, including claims that Dominion Voting Systems, the maker of the Colorado-based Georgia voting machines, is a Venezuelan-linked “left” company that staged thousands of Trump votes to be excluded from the count.

The atmosphere has become so controversial, Raffensperger said, that he and his wife, Tricia, have received death threats in recent days, including a text of his that read: “You better not botch this story. Your life depends on it. “

“Aside from getting angry, it’s also very disappointing,” Raffensperger said of the threats, “especially when it’s coming from people on my side of the aisle. Everyone who works there must raise their speech. We need to be thoughtful and careful about what we say. He said he reported the threats to state authorities.

The pressure on Raffensperger, who has stood up to his party by defending the state’s voting process, comes as Georgia is in the midst of a laborious manual recount of around five million votes. President-elect Joe Biden has a 14,000-vote lead in the initial tally.

The normally gentle-mannered Raffensperger saved his toughest language for Rep. Douglas Collins, R-Ga., Who is leading the president’s efforts in Georgia and whom Raffensperger has called a “liar” and “quack.”

Collins questioned Raffensperger’s handling of the vote and accused him of capitulating to Democrats by not supporting the allegations of voter fraud more strongly.

Raffensperger said every fraud charge will be fully investigated, but there is currently no credible evidence that the fraud occurred on a scale large enough to affect the outcome of the election. .

The recount, Raffensperger said in Monday’s interview, “will confirm” the results of the initial count. He said the hand-counted audit that began last week will also prove the accuracy of the Dominion machines; some counties have already reported that their manual counts exactly match the machine numbers reported previously. One county election officials, Floyd, discovered about 2,600 eligible votes that were not included in the original tally due to a failure to download them to a USB drive. The secretary of state’s office said those votes would likely have been discovered, but called for the county’s chief electoral officer to resign.

” I am an engineer. We are looking at the numbers. We are looking at the hard data, ”he said. “I can’t help but know that a failed candidate like Collins is lying to everyone. He’s a liar. “

A spokeswoman for Collins responded to a request for comment by linking to a tweet Collins sent on Monday in which he described “Raffensperger’s incompetence as secretary of state.”

Collins ran unsuccessfully for the Senate this year and is blamed by some Republicans for pushing the incumbent president in that race, fellow Republican Kelly Loeffler, in a runoff against Reverend Raphael Warnock, a Democrat.

In the interview, Raffensperger also said he spoke to Graham, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, on Friday, who echoed Trump’s unsubstantiated claims about voting irregularities.

During their conversation, Graham asked Raffensperger about the state’s signature matching law and whether political bias could have prompted poll workers to accept ballots with mismatched signatures. , according to Raffensperger. Graham also asked if Raffensperger had the authority to cast all ballots in counties with higher rates of mismatched signatures, Raffensperger said.

Raffensperger said he was stunned that Graham seemed to suggest he found a way to pitch legally filed ballots. In the absence of court intervention, Raffensperger does not have the authority to do what Graham has suggested, as the counties administer the elections in Georgia.

“It looked like he wanted to go down that road,” Raffensperger said.

In an interview with Capitol Hill on Monday night, Graham denied suggesting that Raffensperger cast legal ballots, calling the label “ridiculous.”

But he said he asked the secretary of state to understand the state’s signature matching requirements. Graham said he contacted Raffensperger on his own and that Trump was not asked to do so.

“The main problem for me is, how do you protect the integrity of postal voting and how does signature verification work? ” he said.

“If he feels threatened by this conversation, he has a problem,” Graham added. “I actually thought it was a good conversation.

Election officers handling ballots as part of the 2020 presidential recount, hoping to complete manual counting of ballots before the November 18 deadline

(2020 Getty Images)

On the same day Graham spoke with Raffensperger about the signature match, a lawsuit was filed in federal court in Georgia challenging the way county election officials verify signatures and allow voters to correct ballots with errors.

The lawsuit, filed by Atlanta attorney and Trump supporter Lin Wood, seeks to block Georgia’s election certification until all voting envelopes are inspected.

Also on that day, Trump tweeted about the Georgia signature pairing and criticized Raffensperger for his handling of the state elections: “Georgia Secretary of State, a self-styled Republican (RINO), won’t let people who check the ballots see the fraud signatures. Why? Without it, the whole process is very unfair and almost meaningless. Everyone knows that we have won the state. ”

Raffensperger said he would vigorously fight the trial, which would require matching the ballot envelopes with the ballots – potentially exposing individual voters’ choices.

“It doesn’t matter which political party or campaign does that,” Raffensperger said. “The secrecy of the vote is sacred. “

The Secretary of State also warned that Republican attacks on Dominion voting machines could create problems for US Republican State Senators Loeffler and David Perdue, who face break-ups on January 5 that will be administered using the same Dominion machines.

Over the weekend, social media posts began to appear from Trump supporters wondering if they felt comfortable using the Dominion’s machines in both elections, which will determine which party will control the Senate.

“I don’t think it’s helpful when you create doubt in the electoral process,” Raffensperger said. “People could raise their arms and say, ‘Why vote? “”

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