By Katabella Roberts
Georgia will be conducting a state-wide check of signatures on mail-in ballots in all 159 counties, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced Dec. 17.
Raffensperger said that his office will be partnering with the University of Georgia to conduct the audit, noting that the partnership will “help install confidence” in Georgia’s absentee ballot system in future elections.
“We are confident that elections in Georgia are secure, reliable, and effective,” Raffensperger said in a statement.
“Despite endless lawsuits and wild allegations from Washington, D.C. pundits, we have seen no actual evidence of widespread voter fraud, though we are investigating all credible reports. Nonetheless, we look forward to working with the University of Georgia on this signature match review to further instill confidence in Georgia’s voting systems.”
Raffensperger asked researchers at the University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs to conduct research, including a “randomized signature match study of election materials handled at the county level in the November 3 Presidential contest.”
Researchers will also examine the county-level processes used to match signatures on absentee ballots and their envelopes.
“The work UGA will perform is a study of a sample of signed envelopes in each county from the presidential election. It is intended to be forward-looking, helping to inform and optimize election administration for future electoral contests in the State of Georgia,” Raffensperger said.
He asserted that the audits “will not change the outcome of the November election.”
The announcement comes just weeks before two Georgia Senate runoff elections on Jan. 5 will determine which party controls the Senate.
Raffensperger previously announced a limited signature match audit on absentee ballot envelopes in Cobb County, the state’s third-most populous county, following allegations that election workers had not adequately conducted signature matching on absentee ballot applications ahead of the June primary elections.
The audit will consist of reviewing a statistically significant subset of the signed absentee ballot envelopes and comparing those signatures to the ones on file in Georgia’s voter registration system.
After the third and final recount, Democrat Joe Biden won Georgia by 11,779 votes, or 0.2 percent.
President Donald Trump’s administration, as well as other third parties, have contested the election results, pointing to alleged and confirmed fraud and other voting irregularities in multiple states.
Trump and Kemp spoke earlier this month over the phone, a Kemp spokesman has confirmed.
The president appeared to reference the call in a Dec. 5 Twitter post, calling for a signature audit of Georgia’s absentee ballots and claiming discrepancies in the process.
“I will easily & quickly win Georgia if Governor @BrianKempGA or the Secretary of State permit a simple signature verification,” Trump wrote. “Has not been done and will show large scale discrepancies. Why are these two “Republicans” saying no? If we win Georgia, everything else falls in place!”
Kemp wrote in response to the president’s tweet: “As I told the President this morning, I’ve publicly called for a signature audit three times (11/20, 11/24, 12/3) to restore confidence in our election process and to ensure that only legal votes are counted in Georgia.”
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