US election: Donald Trump ally asked official about tossing legally cast ballots

Georgia secretary of state says he interpreted question as request to lose votes

Donald Trump with Lindsey Graham during an event at the White House
Donald Trump with Lindsey Graham during an event at the White House
(Image credit: Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham asked Georgia’s secretary of state if he had the power to reject absentee ballots during the US election, raising questions over whether the close Donald Trump ally was seeking to toss legally cast votes.

Graham questioned Brad Raffensperger “about the state’s signature-matching law and whether political bias could have prompted poll workers to accept ballots with non-matching signatures”, The Washington Post reports.

He also enquired as to whether Raffensperger had the power to “toss all mail ballots in counties found to have higher rates of non-matching signatures”, the paper adds.

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When voters in Georgia return an absentee ballot, they are required to sign the envelope and election officials must then match the signature to the one listed on the state’s voter registration system.

Graham’s questions “stunned” Raffensperger, who felt he was being asked if he could “find a way to toss legally cast ballots”. “It sure looked like he was wanting to go down that road,” Raffensperger said.

The senator, who was a close friend of the late-John McCain, denied seeking to toss legal ballots, describing the allegation as “ridiculous”. He admitted to asking questions about the state’s signature-matching requirements, adding that he did so under his own volition, not at the request of President Trump.

Trump, who has made a series of unfounded claims of electoral fraud, has “repeatedly taken to social media to criticise Raffensperger and the way the state’s hand tally was being conducted”, The Telegraph says.

Raffensperger told The Washington Post that he and his wife have received death threats during the vote count.

A recount in Georgia found 2,500 new ballots, which favour Trump by around two to one. But election officials say “new votes won’t change Georgia’s overall result, with Joe Biden widely projected as winning the state”, The Independent reports.

Graham, meanwhile, has repeatedly refused to say that Trump lost the election and last week encouraged the president to run for the White House again in 2024 during an interview on Fox News Radio.

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Joe Evans is the world news editor at He joined the team in 2019 and held roles including deputy news editor and acting news editor before moving into his current position in early 2021. He is a regular panellist on The Week Unwrapped podcast, discussing politics and foreign affairs. 

Before joining The Week, he worked as a freelance journalist covering the UK and Ireland for German newspapers and magazines. A series of features on Brexit and the Irish border got him nominated for the Hostwriter Prize in 2019. Prior to settling down in London, he lived and worked in Cambodia, where he ran communications for a non-governmental organisation and worked as a journalist covering Southeast Asia. He has a master’s degree in journalism from City, University of London, and before that studied English Literature at the University of Manchester.