In 2016, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina praised the integrity of the nation’s elections system, criticizing claims by Donald J. Trump that the vote was “rigged.”
“Like most Americans, I have confidence in our democracy and our election system,” Mr. Graham said in a statement on Twitter. “If he loses, it will not be because the system is ‘rigged’ but because he failed as a candidate.”
What a difference four years makes.
Mr. Graham, who has transformed during that time to become one of Mr. Trump’s most loyal allies, now seems determined to reverse the election’s outcome on the president’s behalf. On Friday, he phoned Brad Raffensperger, the secretary of state of Georgia and a fellow Republican, wondering about the possibility of a slight tinkering with the state’s elections outcome.
What if, Mr. Graham suggested on the call, according to Mr. Raffensperger, he had the power to toss out all of the mail-in votes from counties with high rates of questionable signatures on ballots?
In an interview with The Washington Post, Mr. Raffensperger said he was stunned that Mr. Graham had appeared to suggest that he find a way to toss legally cast ballots.
“It sure looked like he was wanting to go down that road,” Mr. Raffensperger said of the call from Mr. Graham, the chairman of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee.
Mr. Graham seems bent on making every attempt to engineer a second term for Mr. Trump, despite President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s clear victory. The senator has suggested that this year’s vote represents the Republican Party’s last gasp, unless something is done to reverse the current state of election operations — the same system he praised in 2016.
“If Republicans don’t challenge and change the U.S. election system, there will never be another Republican president elected again,” Mr. Graham said on Sunday on Fox News.
The phone call to Mr. Raffensperger was one in a string of episodes in which Mr. Graham, who won his own re-election bid this month, has tried to cast doubt on the presidential election’s outcome, demanding that Mr. Trump not concede the race to Mr. Biden despite the Democrat’s decisive Electoral College victory — 306 to 232 electoral votes.