Georgia secretary of state orders study of mail-in ballot signatures after Trump pressure

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Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Wednesday that there will be a statewide signature match study after pressure from President Trump and his supporters.

"This team will work to restore faith in the process and put these rumors to bed, once and for all, for all Americans," Raffensperger said. "Before an absentee ballot is ever cast, a signature match is confirmed twice. Not once. Twice."

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Raffensperger's office will partner with the University of Georgia on the study. He said he was ordering this "extraordinary step" because of how much "disinformation" has been spread on the issue.

"One goal of the audit in Cobb County is to work out the details with the experts from the university," a spokesperson for the secretary of state's office told Fox News.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger speaks during a presser Monday, Dec. 14, 2020, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

On Monday, Raffensperger announced a signature matching audit of absentee ballot envelopes in Cobb County to check whether signatures on absentee ballot envelopes matched signature records among registered voters in the county.

"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 said at a press conference on Monday. "Starting immediately, we are pulling all of our resources together with [the Georgia Bureau of Investigation] to conduct a signature match audit in Cobb County."

The audit will not include a review of signatures on absentee ballots themselves, nor will its findings impact the results of Georgia’s presidential election, which were re-certified this month in favor of President-elect Joe Biden.

Raffensperger said the state aims to release the results of its audit by Dec. 28.

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Trump has yet to concede defeat in the 2020 presidential election and has alleged widespread voter fraud in Georgia and other states where results favored Biden. Trump and his surrogates have been critical of how Georgia’s Republican leaders, including Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp, handled the election.

"Why won’t Governor @BrianKempGA, the hapless Governor of Georgia, use his emergency powers, which can be easily done, to overrule his obstinate Secretary of State, and do a match of signatures on envelopes," Trump tweeted in November. "It will be a 'goldmine' of fraud, and we will easily WIN the state."

Raffensperger, Kemp and others have repeatedly said there was no evidence of widespread voter fraud in the state.

In keeping with state law, county elections officials conducted a signature review when absentee ballot applications were first submitted. Georgia Republicans have called for additional ballot security measures to be implemented ahead of the state’s Senate runoffs in January.

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Early voting in the state began on Monday.

Fox News' Thomas Barrabi contributed to this report.

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