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Georgia secretary of state says Graham, other Republicans have pressured him to toss legal ballots

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Monday that Republican leaders such as Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamClyburn: Biden falling short on naming Black figures to top posts Feinstein departure from top post sets stage for Judiciary fight Spokesperson says Tennessee Democrat made 'poor analogy' in saying South Carolina voters have extra chromosome MORE (R-S.C.) have been putting pressure on him to exclude legal ballots in order for President TrumpDonald John TrumpUSAID administrator tests positive for COVID-19 Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year DOJ appeals ruling preventing it from replacing Trump in E. Jean Carroll defamation lawsuit MORE to be declared the winner and earn the state's 16 electoral votes.

In an interview with The Washington Post, Raffensperger said Graham asked him on Friday if he had the authority to toss out ballots in counties with high rates of nonmatching signatures. Graham also questioned if poll workers had accepted ballots with nonmatching signatures due to political bias, according to Raffensperger.

Graham denied he pressured Raffensperger to find ways to toss out legal votes, saying that he was trying to figure out how votes were verified and that he thought Georgia "has some protections that maybe other states don't have."

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"What I'm trying to find out was how do you verify signatures for mail-in ballots in these states," Graham told reporters on Monday. "I thought it was a good conversation. I'm surprised to hear him characterize it that way."

Raffensperger said he and his wife have received death threats recently, including one that read, “You better not botch this recount. Your life depends on it,” he told the Post. 

Raffensperger said efforts to cast aside legal ballots frustrated him.

“Other than getting you angry, it’s also very disillusioning, particularly when it comes from people on my side of the aisle,” he told the Post. “Everyone that is working on this needs to elevate their speech. We need to be thoughtful and careful about what we say.”

Rep. Doug CollinsDouglas (Doug) Allen CollinsMajority say they want GOP in control of Senate: poll The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Trump, Biden clash over transition holdup, pandemic plans Georgia secretary of state says wife has received threatening texts about recount MORE (R-Ga.) has also been critical of Raffensperger, accusing him of siding with Democrats because he has not backed voter fraud claims more fervently.

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In response to Collins's accusations, Raffensperger said, "I’m an engineer. We look at numbers. We look at hard data. I can’t help it that a failed candidate like Doug Collins is running around lying to everyone. He’s a liar."

Collins did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.

Collins lost a special election race against Sen. Kelly LoefflerKelly LoefflerFeinstein departure from top post sets stage for Judiciary fight House Democrat accuses Air Force of attempting to influence Georgia runoff races Ossoff, Warnock to knock on doors in runoff campaigns MORE (R). Collins has not contested his own election results, in which he conceded to Loeffler on election night.

Raffensperger said any claims of voter fraud would be investigated but that there was not enough evidence that widespread fraud had occurred, leaving the state's outcome of the presidential election, in which President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenHarris says she has 'not yet' spoken to Pence Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year Obama: Republican Party members believe 'white males are victims' MORE was projected the winner, unchanged. 

Georgia is currently conducting a hand recount of votes, which Raffensperger ordered as part of the state's risk-limiting audit process. It is expected to be completed by Nov. 20, the deadline for certifying election results.

-- Jordain Carney contributed to this report