At long last, Republican Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced on Thursday that his office would be conducting a statewide review of signature matching that took place during the Nov. 3 presidential election.
What are the details?
The news followed an earlier announcement that the secretary of state's office would be cooperating with the Georgia Bureau of Investigations to conduct a limited signature matching review in Cobb County, the state's third most populous county, after President Donald Trump and his allies for weeks advocated for such a review.
"Now that the signature matching has been attacked again and again with no evidence, I feel we need to take steps to restore confidence in our elections," Raffensperger told reporters Monday.
In a news release providing more details about the forthcoming statewide audit, the secretary of state's office said that they would be working with the University of Georgia on a "randomized signature match study of election materials handled at the county level in the November 3 Presidential contest."
"This work will also include research on processes used at the county level to perform signature-matching," the news release added. "The work UGA will perform is a study of a sample of signed envelopes in each county from the presidential election."
"We are confident that elections in Georgia are secure, reliable, and effective," Raffensperger said. "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."
The news release noted that the review is intended to be "forward-looking," indicating that results would not affect the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, but rather would serve to "inform and optimize election administration for future electoral contests." The Cobb County review alone is slated to take two weeks.
Raffensperger and Republican Gov. Brian Kemp certified election results on Nov. 20 showing Democratic challenger Joe Biden defeating President Trump in the state to secure the Georgia's 16 Electoral College votes. The official tabulation showed Biden edging Trump in the state by just under 13,000 votes.
Trump and his allies have maintained that Biden's victory in the state is the result of rampant fraudulent activity. Trump has repeatedly pressured officials in the state to conduct an audit of signature matching, saying if a full review were done he would win the state "easily."
In Georgia, as in many of the battleground states, post-election data showed the overall rejection rate for mail-in votes in November to be significantly lower than in previous elections, raising the potential that fraudulent votes were counted. But, according to Georgia election officials, that decrease was not due to the acceptance of ballots with signature problems.