Secretary of State orders signature audit of Cobb County absentee ballots

COBB COUNTY, Ga. — Georgia’s Secretary of State says his office has ordered an audit of voter signatures on absentee ballot envelopes in Cobb County.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger made the announcement during an afternoon news conference Monday.

“Starting immediately, we are pulling all of our resources together with GBI to conduct a signature match audit in Cobb County,” Raffensperger said.

The audit will include November’s general election and the primary election over the summer.

“Voter privacy is top of mind and we will never release how someone voted. We are only reviewing the signatures on the envelope. We recently received a report that Cobb County may not have conducted a proper signature match in June, and we will look into that claim,” Raffensperger said.

The news came as early voting in Georgia’s runoff election started, with some polling places seeing lines that stretched for at least an hour.

The audit is scheduled to be completed in two weeks, about a week before the runoff election.

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In a statement Monday, Cobb County Elections Director Janine Eveler said her office would assist with the audit but is still waiting on a court order before doing so.

“I’m confident any audit would find our office followed procedures and only counted ballots that were processed correctly,” Eveler said. “Even though our resources are already stretched thin by advance voting and preparations for the Jan. 5 runoff, we will help this process move as expeditiously as possible.”

Gov. Brian Kemp released a statement Monday afternoon showing his support for the audit.

“I am glad Secretary Raffensperger has finally taken this necessary step to begin restoring confidence in our state’s election processes. I have called for a signature audit repeatedly since the Nov. 3 election. As Georgians head back to the polls for the Jan. 5 runoffs, it is absolutely vital for every vote cast to be legal and for only legal votes to be counted,” Kemp said.

Raffensperger has said he wants to replace signature matching in future elections and that he will ask the General Assembly in the next session to require photo ID with absentee ballots.