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Opinion: Trump's distressing election ploy

President Donald Trump speaks at the White House. [AP file photo]
President Donald Trump speaks at the White House. [AP file photo]

Donald Trump has said and done his share of questionable things during his four years as president. Few if any compare to his effort to get Georgia’s Republican secretary of state to find a way to overturn Trump’s loss in that state.

The Washington Post reported on Trump’s one-hour conversation Saturday with Brad Raffensperger, in which the president urged the Republican official to “find” enough votes to give Trump the victory in Georgia. The Post is no fan of the president, certainly, but it obtained a recording of the phone call.

The conversation is deeply concerning at a minimum, and perhaps criminal.

President-elect Joe Biden won by just 11,779 votes in Georgia, out of nearly 5 million votes cast. On the phone call, Trump said several times that, “There’s no way I lost Georgia.”

He told Raffensperger that “a real check of the signatures going back in Fulton County” would turn up “at least a couple of hundred thousand” ballots with forged signatures. Yet that would be equal to about 40% of the total number of votes cast in that county, Georgia’s largest.

“I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have,” Trump said. “Because we won the state.”

Georgia officials conducted three recounts of the election, and Biden won each time. In the phone call, Raffensperger and his general counsel told the president and those at the other end of the line that they were basing their claims on debunked conspiracy theories.

“The people of Georgia are angry, the people of the country are angry,” Trump countered. “And there’s nothing wrong with saying, you know, that you’ve recalculated.”

Recalculated? To his credit, Raffensperger held his ground: “Well, Mr. President, the challenge that you have is, the data you have is wrong.”

The strong-arming by Trump is a sign of desperation as his term ends — NBC reported that before Saturday, Trump had tried 18 times to speak directly with Raffensperger.

Raffensperger said Monday he has heard Fulton County’s district attorney may be interested in looking into the phone call. “Maybe that’s the appropriate venue for it to go,” he said.

Richard H. Pildes, a constitutional law professor at New York University, told the Post that Trump is either knowingly trying to coerce state officials to mess with the election or he actually believes what he is saying. But focusing on whether Trump committed a crime, Pildes said, could turn attention away from the issue of a president “trying to use the power of his office to pressure state officials into committing election fraud to keep him in office.”

It’s a distressing chapter, one that should be full-throatedly rejected by Republicans in Congress including the members of Oklahoma’s delegation.


Opinion editor Owen Canfield is in his 18th year writing editorials for The Oklahoman and has spent nearly 40 years in journalism. Contact him at or (405) 475-3205. Support his work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a print or digital subscription at

Owen Canfield III

Owen Canfield has written editorials for The Oklahoman since 2003. Prior to that, he spent 19 years with The Associated Press in Oklahoma City. He is a 1981 graduate of the University of Oklahoma. He and his wife, Lori, have four children. Read more ›