Ga. Secretary of State says disinformation spurred random audit of absentee ballot signatures

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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – There is no evidence of widespread fraud in the November election results, Georgia election officials reiterated Wednesday, as they discussed high voter turnout already being recorded in the Jan. 5 runoffs.

Up to 800,000 voters have already cast ballots in early in-person voting and by absentee, or mail.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger says he’s committed to answering charges of disinformation saying, “unfortunately, through this election process, as we have seen through elections over the years, truth has become a casualty of the campaigns.”

Raffensperger, who’s been criticized and threatened, says the state and counties conducted a safe and secure election.

“The first big disinformation campaign was that the machines were flipping or deleting votes,” said Raffensperger. “But we executed a hand tally audit, and election workers in all 159 counties hand tallied over 5 million cast ballots, and that tally proved that the machines counted the ballots properly and accurately.”

He also addressed the continued controversy of absentee ballot signatures.

“Before an absentee ballot is ever cast, a signature match is confirmed twice, not once, twice. I don’t know how much clearer I can make that for everyone to understand,” Raffensperger said.

But even with his assurances, Raffensperer said he is now taking yet another step to try to instill confidence in the results. He said his office will be working with the University of Georgia to check a “random” sample of signatures.

“We’ll be doing an additional audit statewide,” said Raffensperger. It will be conducted by the University of Georgia and its school of Public and International Affairs Research Team.

“Because there has been so much disinformation about this issue, I am ordering this extraordinary step,” the secretary of state said. “Our goal is to do our best to answer every and all questions.”

Raffensperger was also pragmatic, saying he “understands it will be difficult to change some minds but at the same time, all voters need to be respected equally.”

Gabriel Sterling, who is the voting implementation manager, says the audit process is just getting started. Cobb County will have a full audit, but for the other 158 counties in the state, it will be a mathematical sample.

Sterling was blunt in his assessment that it was not a step being taken because there have been a lot of problems found.

“This is in response to the tsunami of disinformation, as Secretary Raffensperer said, in order to attempt to restore the confidence of some people,” he added. “Because as he said, there are people who are going to go to their graves feeling like this election was stolen regardless of how much evidence they see.”

Meanwhile, both Sterling and Raffensperger are encouraging people to vote in the runoff in person during early voting, in-person on Election Day or absentee.

Raffensperger says his office will continue to promote voting and tell its story, i.e., that things were done right.

“The facts are on our side,” he said.

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