'I think there are a lot of people that feel like bad things happened in the election,' Graham explained.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said Monday that he accepts the results of the 2020 election as well as President Joe Biden's win, but supports the myriad voter suppression efforts Republicans are undertaking across the country, ahead of the 2022 contests.
Graham made the comments in response to a reporter question about the controversial election audit in Arizona, which is based on voter fraud lies and conspiracy theories of a stolen victory, pushed by Donald Trump. That audit has sparked concern from the Justice Department that the audit is not adhering to election law.
Graham claimed to not know much about the audit, but said, "I accept the results of the election," adding that he is ready to "move on."
"2020 is over for me, I'm ready to march on and hopefully take back the House and the Senate in 2022," Graham told reporters in his home state of South Carolina.
The senator did not say whether he believes there was fraud in the November race, but advocated for voter suppression laws ahead of the next election, specifically singling out a desire to make it harder to vote absentee.
"I think it's smart to reform our laws to make sure you are who you are," Graham said, saying he supports voter ID laws. "I think there are a lot of people that feel like bad things happened in the election ... But I think President Trump and the Republican Party needs [sic] to focus on election reform and the upcoming election."
Experts have said repeatedly that voter ID laws are often discriminatory and target low income and minority communities, as well as those with disabilities. Further, those experts say ID laws are largely useless, considering that the kinds of fraud those laws claim to target are rare.
Despite this, a number of states have attempted to make it harder for people to vote in the months since Biden's win, many citing baseless claims fraud in the November election while introducing legislation limiting ballot drop-boxes, shortening early voting, and enacting other strict policies that frequently target minority and low-income communities.
Graham, for his part, initially backed Trump's effort to steal the 2020 election, even suggesting in a November 2020 call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger that mail-in ballots in certain counties in the state be tossed.
"During our discussion, he asked if ballots could be matched back to the envelope. I explained our process, after it went through two sets of signature match, at that point they were separated," Raffensperger said after the call.
He continued, "But then Senator Graham implied for us to audit the envelopes and then throw out the ballots for counties who have the highest frequency error of signatures. I tried to help explain that because we did signature match, you couldn't tie the signatures back anymore to those ballots."
Graham's conversation with Raffensperger was later included as part of a criminal investigation into Trump's effort to steal the state, according to the Washington Post. The investigation stemmed from Trump's demand that Raffensperger "find" 11,780 ballots — the exact number needed for Trump to be declared winner of the state.
Graham himself also made allegations of fraud in the immediate aftermath of the 2020 election.
"We’ll see what that comes up with. So I think you're going to see some major irregularities," Graham said on Nov. 6, 2020, a day before the media called the race for Biden. "Democracy depends upon fair elections. President Trump’s team is going to have the chance to make a case, regarding voting irregularities. ... I’m going to stand with President Trump."
After no voter fraud evidence surfaced, and after Trump incited the deadly insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6, Graham said that Trump needed to stop pushing voter fraud lies and move forward, voting to certify Biden's win along with the overwhelming majority of the Senate.
Trump, for his part, has not listened.
Since May 12, Trump has published seven posts on his new blog saying there was fraud in the 2020 election and that the election was stolen. One blog post was so full with lies that a Republican election official in Arizona called it "unhinged."
Still, Graham has said he has no intention of ditching Trump, despite the voter fraud lies.
"Can we move forward without President Trump? The answer is no," Graham said earlier in May, when Republicans were waging their effort to remove Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) from leadership. "I've always liked Liz Cheney, but she's made a determination that the Republican Party can't grow with President Trump. I've determined we can't grow without him."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.