Georgia Begins Second Recount – No Audit of Absentee Ballot Signatures

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Georgia initiated its second recount Tuesday of the votes cast in the general election. During this recount, the votes will be processed electronically rather than hand-counted – but there will be no audit of absentee ballot signatures.

In a virtual press conference, Georgia Secretary of State Voting Systems Manager Gabriel Sterling asserted that their office would continue to “follow the law” for this recount. He explained that no state law exists requiring or outlining signature matching after initial confirmation upon receipt of the ballot. That, and workers separate ballots from their signed envelopes to protect ballot secrecy.

“There’s no way to track those back to the ballots that were there,” stated Sterling. “So the only remedy is to throw out legal ballots along with potentially illegal ballots, if there’s even an issue at all.”

Although there’s no feasible way to rejoin the signature to its vote, county election officials hold onto the signed envelopes for two years after the election.

Sterling also shared that there are more reports of voter fraud coming into their office, but “nothing widespread.”

President Donald Trump’s legal team filed a petition for this recount on Saturday. That same day, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger published an op-ed in The Washington Post asserting that concerns about the integrity of Georgia’s elections systems dating back to his ascension to office are “unfair and unwarranted criticism.”

Testers of the voting systems, elections officials, and voters catalogued various issues with the most recent system purchased from Dominion Voting Systems. Their reports flagged glitches and memory lockups in the system.

The initial hand recount was called a “risk-limiting audit” by Raffensperger. Various legislators, activists, constituents, and pundits criticized the audit, calling it a “fake recount” because the audit excluded absentee ballot signature matching.

Critics had the same issue for this second recount. The Georgia Republican Party (GAGOP) State Executive Committee sent a letter to Raffensperger requesting an absentee ballot audit. The letter included one example of two Fulton County Board of Registration and Elections members that refused to certify their results due to concerns with their absentee ballot verifications.

Congresswoman-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA-14) shared Shafer’s letter in a post.

[email protected] has asked for an audit of absentee ballots. @GovKemp has asked for an audit of absentee ballots. Now the entire @GaRepublicans state executive committee has asked. And GA voters are demanding it! Everyone agrees! Why is this so difficult @GaSecofState?”

In a brief press conference last week, Governor Brian Kemp also urged Raffensperger to audit the absentee ballot signatures. Raffensperger hasn’t responded since then to those requests.

Greene also shared that she was taking part in the recount, at first confirming that there would be an audit of the absentee ballot signatures.

“President @realDonaldTrump’s recount starts tomorrow here in Georgia. I am now a certified ballot monitor. We will be doing an audit checking signatures and doing a full recount!”

However, Greene later corrected her statement, saying that a court order needed to be filed for that type of audit. She referenced reports of absentee ballot envelopes being destroyed, as purported in videos of Cobb County Board of Elections and Registration shredding election documents during last week’s recount.

Raffensperger and other officials have stated that auditing absentee ballot signatures would violate Georgia Code and Georgia Constitution provisions for voter confidentiality.

The Georgia Star News reached out to Greene for updates on her experience during the recount. The congresswoman-elect didn’t respond with comment by press time.

Workers have until December 2nd to finish the second recount.

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Corinne Murdock is a reporter at The Georgia Star News and the Star News Network. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to [email protected]

 

 

 

 

 

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