The GOP is behaving exceedingly irresponsibly. Senator Graham and Representative Collins are prime examples.

Via WaPo: Ga. secretary of state says fellow Republicans are pressuring him to find ways to exclude ballots.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Monday that he has come under increasing pressure in recent days from fellow Republicans, including Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.), who he said questioned the validity of legally cast absentee ballots, in an effort to reverse President Trump’s narrow loss in the state.


The pressure on Raffensperger, who has bucked his party in defending the state’s voting process, comes as Georgia is in the midst of a laborious hand recount of about 5 million ballots. President-elect Joe Biden has a 14,000-vote lead in the initial count.

The normally mild-mannered Raffensperger saved his harshest language for Rep. Douglas A. Collins (R-Ga.), who is leading the president’s efforts in Georgia and whom Raffensperger called a “liar” and a “charlatan.”


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

FWIW, Collins chose not to run for re-election to the House, and instead tried to run for the Senate, but did not make the run-off.

In regards to Senator Graham:

…Graham questioned Raffensperger about the state’s signature-matching law and whether political bias could have prompted poll workers to accept ballots with nonmatching signatures, according to Raffensperger. Graham also asked whether Raffensperger had the power to toss all mail ballots in counties found to have higher rates of nonmatching signatures, Raffensperger said.

Raffensperger said he was stunned that Graham appeared to suggest that he find a way to toss legally cast ballots. Absent court intervention, Raffensperger doesn’t have the power to do what Graham suggested because counties administer elections in Georgia.

“It sure looked like he was wanting to go down that road,” Raffensperger said.

For the record, the story notes that Graham disputes this characterization of the conversation.

I don’t have time to go into detailed analysis of this at the moment, I just wanted to underscore that this behavior is anti-democratic, full stop.

Sitting US Senators should not be calling of Secretaries of State to inquire about vote-counting procedures in the middle of the process, especially given what Trump has said and what Graham himself has said in public.

The Republican Party is not behaving, collectively, as a pro-democracy entity and that is bad for all of us.

More later.

FILED UNDER: 2020 Election, Democracy, US Politics, , , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. Sleeping Dog says:

    Dr T. You know it’s a republic not a democracy and Rs are simply pursuing tyranny as the preferred type of republic.

    I do have to say that Graham has sunken lower than I ever would have imagined that he would. I wonder who has the pictures?

  2. MarkedMan says:

    @Sleeping Dog: I’ve wondered about that. Graham is making more and more enemies. Eventually we will find out…

  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    To repeat myself from this AM’s open forum

    “I thought it was a good conversation,” Graham said

    In fact it was a perfect conversation.

  4. gVOR08 says:

    What @Sleeping Dog: said. They’re not behaving like a pro-democracy entity because they are not a pro-democracy entity.

  5. Kathy says:

    I wonder what makes them think the first american dictator will be a Republican. What assurances they have of that?

    Sure, for now it’s only their party that’s indulging authoritarianism, and, contrary to their public pronouncements, are giving thanks to God that Biden is a moderate. But that’s not necessarily how things will play out in the future. Having opened the door, anyone can come in.

  6. MarkedMan says:

    Reposting from a different thread:

    This is Klan Governance, something that the South practiced up until the Voting Rights Act and the pre-clearance requirement was passed in 1965. As someone recently pointed out here, Kansas and (I think) Tennessee had similar populations before the VRA but Tennessee had something like 1/8th of the voting participation. Klan Governance means keeping power over the majority by several methods, but an important one is to make it difficult to vote but proportionally easier to vote in your strongholds.

    Under the VRA and pre-clearance, participation in general and minority participation in particular increased steadily, until the Republican justices sided with their party bosses and tossed pre-clearance in the trash. Since that time the Republicans have endeavored to move Klan Governance across the nation, and had been succeeding long before President Trump was so much as a zit on the ass of the nation.

  7. dmichael says:

    CNN is reporting this from the staffer who was involved in the Graham conversation with the Georgia Sec of State: “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.”
    Felony election fraud, anyone?

  8. Erik says:

    @Sleeping Dog: @MarkedMan: You give Graham way too much credit. If he were acting as he does only due to blackmail that would mean that he was a fundamentally decent person unable to resist the shame of the blackmail. The more likely answer is that he is, fundamentally, not a decent person. That he acts as he does because he wants to act that way. I can detect no reluctance in Graham’s words or actions

  9. Jen says:

    Sen. Graham is sinking ever lower. I wonder what McCain, a man of honor and integrity, ever saw in him.

  10. Scott F. says:

    The Republican Party is not behaving, collectively, as a pro-democracy entity and that is bad for all of us.

    As you have noted in your commentary over the previous months, Steven, this is not a new dynamic on the right. There’s documented anti-democracy behavior from the GOP going back to at least Goldwater. All that’s different in 2020 is the behaviors are more flagrant and more out in public.

    It’s counterintuitive, but I expect history could see this Trumpist moment in time as a blessing in disguise. By being so obviously anti-majoritarian, the GOP is denying themselves plausible deniability of their true intentions. That could be a good thing for all of us in the long run.

  11. Pete S says:

    Graham has hopefully really stepped in it here. If he claims he was acting in good faith he has to admit he is a complete and utter moron. A county that has a higher rate of rejecting ballots for mismatched signatures either:
    1. Is receiving more questionable ballots than expected and is being diligent in rejecting them.
    2. Less likely to accept a questionable ballot than another county.
    Denying the conversation took place is now out as there were witnesses on the call.
    His whole premise is transparently backwards. I guess like a lot of the people who vote for him….

  12. JohnMcC says:

    Makes one wonder is perhaps Sen Graham would have proceeded to recommend a good signature-checker that he knows in South Carolina.

  13. Jax says:

    @JohnMcC: You know, now that you mention it….seems like South Carolina was called awfully fast, and I really expected Harrison to do better….same with Kentucky, there was a thread by Kentucky Dems on Twitter the other night about how the vote counts were wonky given the amount of Dem voter registrations.

    Maybe South Carolina and Kentucky also need some recounting.

  14. JohnSF says:

    @Scott F.:
    Being anti-majoritarian in and of itself wouldn’t trouble me that much.
    I’m pretty non-majoritarian.
    I think there is no guarantee that a majority won’t hold opinions that are unethical, unrealistic, illogical, incoherent, unwise or just plain daft.
    No magical barrier says reprehensible view may have 49% of the vote, but will never have 51%.
    Nor does such a majority support make a reprehensible thing laudable.
    (I also don’t think the populus alone is the appropriate basis of sovereignty; I’m a parliamentery monarchist)

    On that basis, you could say that it is necessary to contruct a political ideal based on ethical standards, and an aristoi of achievement.
    Very alien to American liberalism (which includes Republicanism, in a lot of ways) in political culture. (As I’m neither American nor liberal, that doesn’t bother me as such; it’s that lack of effort they’ve put in).

    Some Strussians have occasional mooted this sort of thing, in a half-assed kinda way, and tripped over by mis-identifying ethics with religous convention, and aristoi with hereditary status or property. Twits.
    Or the Spencerian/Sumnerian tradition of the best arising from market competition into wealth and power.

    But, being as it’s so alien, the Republicans have set up a mish-mash of Straussian and Sumnerian concepts of elites, and a incoherently resentful ethno-religous base, and are stepping perilously close to a “True Nation” definition of political legitimacy that is at best Rousseau’s General Will bastardised, at worst stepping up to fascism and asking for a dance.

    Anything so shoddily constructed is liable to fall over in a very messy fashion.
    You can’t at the same time be a authoritarian populist and an anti-majoritarian without falling into the trap of totalising power.
    And you cant’t run a modern society on a totalitarian basis.
    Probably: China is giving it their best shot; but at least they know what they are trying to do.

  15. DrDaveT says:


    On that basis, you could say that it is necessary to construct a political ideal based on ethical standards, and an aristoi of achievement. Very alien to American liberalism […]

    Perhaps not so alien as all that. The strong American push for public education was founded in large part on an understanding that democracy stands or falls on the ability of the demos to recognize the aristoi and prefer them over demagogues and panderers.

    It is not a coincidence which current political party has fought long and hard to cripple public education, to resist national curriculum standards, and to devolve the tax base that public education rests on to the most local level possible. “Small government” and “religious freedom” have been very effective slogans toward those ends.

    I sympathize with your position, by the way — I’m a thoroughgoing elitist, but one who believes that no basis for sovereignty that isn’t fundamentally democratic can achieve my elitist liberal goals in the long run.

  16. JohnSF says:

    Now that’s interesting.
    But thinking about it, it might fit with the Revolution as an elite-managed affair.
    I may have let my flights of rhetoric outstep my evidence (again).

    Would what you are thinking of be early republic or post-Civil War or more recent?
    Any ideas for further information?

  17. DrDaveT says:


    Would what you are thinking of be early republic or post-Civil War or more recent?

    Early Republic, with antecedents in New England even before independence.

    Any ideas for further information?

    I can’t tell whether this is a good scholarly paper or a piece of Federalist Society propaganda, but it does seem to be making the same argument I am about the role of education in the new United States, and it has lots of footnotes:

    […] Moreover, once
    politics and religion had been distinguished, and church and state
    separated, the independence and stature of the moral realm were
    restored to something like the Aristotelian basis. […] On this
    basis, the American Founders, far from abandoning education in
    moral virtue, undertook an unprecedented campaign for public and
    private education.26 These efforts took place mainly on the state
    level, and so are not mentioned in the Constitution or The Federalist
    Papers. Nevertheless, they were extremely significant for
    the American way of life.

  18. An Interested Party says:

    Sen. Graham is sinking ever lower. I wonder what McCain, a man of honor and integrity, ever saw in him.

    I wonder what John McCain would have to say about how low his protégé has sunk…hell, I wonder what Cindy McCain thinks of Graham at this point…

    Graham has hopefully really stepped in it here.

    A pity that he will suffer no consequences for this…

  19. de stijl says:

    Who would go out of their way to consciously admit to being a spineless toady?


    Grima Wormtongue?

    The pool is small.

  20. Barry says:

    @Kathy: “I wonder what makes them think the first american dictator will be a Republican. What assurances they have of that?”

    They hold a large majority of positions to do that. They can gerrymander and suppress votes in many, if not most steps. They have a lock on the federal courts, with a legal philosophy which is flexible and has deep roots in voter suppression.

    They have massive religious movement which originated from slavemasters and is friendly to tyranny.

    They have a ‘liberal’ mass media which covers for them. Even now, they get vastly more deference than they deserve.

    They have a well-developed right-wing ecosystem which has reach, depth and absolutely no shame.

    Also, they have the experience of the Bush II and Trump administrations, where it is clear that they can go far farther than people think, and get away with it.

    Right now the balance of forces favors them destroying democracy.

  21. inhumans99 says:

    So on another forum people got really annoyed that Kamala was seen fist bumping with Graham on the floor of Congress but I basically replied that while not a profile in courage, Graham says things publicly that will make Trump happy but the fist bump speaks volumes about how he feels about Trump’s claim that he won the election. Graham needs to keep saying things to placate Trump until 01/20 and then hopefully, all bets are off.

    I can be hopelessly naïve but even if some members of the GOP conveniently discover they have a spine and can use it after Trump is out of the White House, I will still take what I can get.