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Senator Lindsey Graham pushed Georgia’s Secretary of State for lawfully cast votes

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Senator Lindsey Graham pushed Georgia's Secretary of State for lawfully cast votes
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Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Monday to the U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham questioned him if he had the right to refuse a number of absentee ballots, a question which he perceived as a statement that constitutionally cast votes should be cast.

Raffensperger made statements to The Washington Post that he was faced with growing criticism from fellow Republicans who needed to see the narrow leadership of Democrat Joe Biden overturned in the state. Nearly 5 million ballots were cast in Georgia’s presidential race, while Biden led President Donald Trump by nearly 14,000 votes.

Graham questioned him what political prejudice could have prompted election staff to approve non-matching ballots, and whether Raffensperger should cast all absentee ballots in counties with higher rates of non-matching signatures, the Secretary of State told the newspaper.

When asked about the talk with Raffensperger, Graham said on Monday that he was “trying to figure out how the signature stuff worked.” He said that Raffensperger “did a decent job of explaining to me how the signatures were verified.”

Asked about Raffensperger’s perception that he implied that legitimately cast ballots should be tossed out, Graham said That’s crazy.”

County election officers across the state worked over the weekend to count the ballots in the presidential race as part of a constitutionally required investigation to ensure that the latest voting machines counted the votes correctly.

When the count is complete and the results are certified, the candidate losing will order a recount, which can be performed using machines that read and count the ballots.

Election officials said Monday that more than 2,500 ballots had been cast in one county that had not been counted before, but that this did not change the final result of the race.

The approximate distribution of the votes cast was 1,643 for Trump, 865 for Biden, and 16 for Libertarian Jo Jorgensen, according to Gabriel Sterling, the top official of the elections.

Raffensperger’s remarks came as election officials across the state prepared to finish a hand-over vote count in the presidential race.

When Georgia electors return an absentee ballot, they must sign an oath on the outer envelope. County election officers are expected to ensure that the signature fits that of the absentee ballot application and that of the voter registration system, Raffensperger said in a statement over the weekend.

“The reason you’re conducting an audit is to discover this sort of stuff,” Sterling said.

He said that the situation seemed to be an isolated concern and that there had been “no fundamental improvements” in other counties.

County Electoral Board Chairman Tom Rees said it appeared that the votes were cast early in-person, although the election officials were not aware if they were missing.

The county election office suffered some losses, including a top official who was afflicted with coronavirus, and it appears like proper protocols were not followed when the results were tabulated by the computer, Sterling said. But the county had the paper ballots and the error was caught during the hand count, he said.

Trump, who has made false accusations of irregularities and manipulation in the election process, has repeatedly brought his campaign to the social media to condemn Raffensperger and the manner in which the state’s hand has been counted. The Secretary of State responded to their claims in social media posts on his own.

Raffensperger told the Post that he and his wife had received death threats in recent days.

“Other than making you upset, it’s really disillusioning, too,” he said.

County election officers were ordered to finish the count by 11:59 p.m. It’s Wednesday. The deadline for the State to certify the results of the elections is Friday.

The hand tally seemed to go well in most areas, and the overwhelming majority of 159 counties in the state had finished their job by Monday, Sterling said. What remained was mainly data entry and quality management procedures prior to the application of results to the Secretary of State, he added. State election officials have said that they will not report any reports from the count until the entire process is complete.

Raffensperger’s office has repeatedly argued that it is likely that the findings would vary significantly from those historically reported by the counties, but that the variation is not supposed to affect the outcome. The findings of the audit are what will be approved, the election officials said.

The AP has not named a winner in Georgia, where Biden is leading Trump by 0.3 percentage points. There is no mandatory recounting law in Georgia, but state law allows for this alternative to a candidate who is on the run if the margin is less than 0.5 percentage points. It is the tradition of AP not to call a contest that is – or is likely to become – subject to a recount.

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