U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, a close ally of President Donald Trump, spoke twice with Gov. Doug Ducey in the days after the election, part of a series of calls the South Carolina Republican made to inquire about the election in swing states that former Vice President Joe Biden won.
Graham and Ducey spoke a few days after the election, and again early in the week after Election Day, according to Daniel Scarpinato, the governor’s chief of staff.
The senator, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, was particularly interested in the rules and process for verifying signatures on early ballots, Scarpinato said. In Arizona, voters must sign the envelope they use to mail or deliver their early ballots, and election officials compare those signatures to the ones on file for those voters in order to confirm their identities. If a signature doesn’t appear to match, election officials contact the voters to determine whether they’re the ones who signed the envelopes.
“Arizona’s really an example of doing that right, and the governor has been very vocal — including in the Oval Office — about the fact that Arizona’s been doing this now since … 1992, in terms of some form of early voting, and has in many ways perfected it,” Scarpinato said.
Graham also inquired about the process for counting ballots in Arizona, the order in which those ballots are counted and what the statutory requirements are for recounts, Scarpinato said. State law only permits a recount of a statewide election if the margin of victory is fewer than 200 votes, or one-tenth of 1 percent of the total votes cast, whichever number is lower. Scarpinato said the governor informed Graham that Arizona, unlike some other states, doesn’t allow campaigns or other outside parties to pay for recounts.
Scarpinato said Graham didn’t make any requests of the governor, and that he was only looking for information about Arizona’s election laws and processes. Ducey and Graham “have a longstanding friendship and relationship,” the chief of staff said.
“He wanted to know what the rules are in Arizona, and we explained them to him,” Scarpinato said.
Graham has touted Arizona’s handling of elections, especially as compared to other swing states where Biden defeated Trump. In a Nov. 5 interview on Fox News, Graham said he’d spoken to Ducey, who told him Arizona was coming down to a couple thousand votes.
“I trust Arizona. I don’t trust Philadelphia. I don’t trust what’s going on in Nevada,” Graham said.
Graham told a reporter on Tuesday morning that he spoke with Ducey and an official in Nevada about the election, though he later said he hadn’t spoken with anyone in Nevada, only that he’d spoken with someone about the state’s election processes.
Graham’s phone calls have been the source of some controversy. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, told The Washington Post that Graham asked him about Georgia’s laws on verifying signatures on absentee ballots and whether pro-Biden poll workers could have accepted ballots with non-matching signatures.
Raffensperger also said Graham asked whether he had the authority to reject mailed ballots in counties with high rates of non-matching signatures, which the secretary of state said he interpreted as a suggestion that he reject legally cast ballots in an attempt to help Trump in Georgia.
“It sure looked like he was wanting to go down that road,” Raffensperger told the Post.
Graham denied Raffensperger’s allegation and said it would be “ridiculous” to interpret his question as a request to toss legally cast ballots. He said he simply was trying to learn more about Georgia’s signature-matching requirements.