A staffer for Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Tuesday that he participated in a controversial phone call with Sen. Lindsey Graham and said he heard Graham ask if state officials could throw out ballots.
The comments from the staffer, election implementation manager Gabriel Sterling, corroborate Raffensperger recent claims about the phone call with Graham, who is one of President Donald Trump’s most outspoken allies.
Earlier this week, Raffensperger accused Graham of asking him to “look hard and see how many ballots you could throw out,” referring to absentee ballots that skewed heavily in favor of President-elect Joe Biden. Graham denied the claim, saying that it was “ridiculous” that he tried to pressure Raffensperger to throw out legally cast ballots.
In response to a question from CNN about the incident, Sterling said on Tuesday, “What I heard was basically discussions about absentee ballots and if a potentially … if there was a percentage of signatures that weren’t really, truly matching, is there some point we could get to, we could say somebody went to a courtroom could say well, let’s throw (out) all these ballots because we have no way of knowing because the ballots are separated.”
“There is no physical ability for this office to do anything along those lines,” Sterling continued, referring to throwing out absentee ballots that have already been deemed legal by local election officials. “If somebody wanted to go that route, they could go the court route.”
Graham’s comments “might have gone a little to the edge of” what people deem acceptable, Sterling said, but added that he understands why Raffensperger and Graham might have interpreted the conversation differently.
“The President is going to continue to fight, his supporters continue to fight,” Sterling said. “Our job is to continue to follow the law, and we were answering process questions… that’s what we were doing on the call.”