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As Georgia election officials work to complete a recount of nearly five million ballots by Wednesday, President Trump is trying to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the process — a hand recount that his own campaign demanded.
In a series of tweets in recent days, Mr. Trump has alleged that vote counters have not been permitted to match signatures included with absentee ballots and has falsely claimed that this renders the recount meaningless. He has also claimed incorrectly that the inability to match the signatures is the result of a consent decree signed by the state.
Here are the facts:
In Georgia, where the initial count showed that Mr. Trump lost to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. by several thousand votes, the recount process does not include the reverification of signatures included with absentee ballots.
When absentee ballots are received by Georgia’s election officials, the signature on the envelope is matched to other signatures that are part of the voter’s record. Once that is verified, the envelope containing the signature is separated from the ballot to protect the secrecy of the voter’s choice. Voters whose signatures do not match those on record are notified and asked for clarification.
The envelopes and ballots are retained for two years. But because they have been separated to protect voters’ privacy, there is no longer a way to match ballots to envelopes. As such, rechecking signatures in a recount would be meaningless.
A similar procedure is followed in other states, and Georgia’s process of separating ballots from signature envelopes has nothing to do with any consent decree.
Georgia’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, has said that the state trained election officials on signature matching. More than 1.3 million people voted by absentee ballot in Georgia in the general election.
Mr. Raffensperger also has accused fellow Republicans of trying to undermine the legitimacy of the state’s election in an effort to swing the results to Mr. Trump.
In an interview with The Washington Post on Monday, Mr. Raffensperger said that Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina had asked him about possible ways that ballots could be disqualified, including whether the secretary of state could reject all absentee ballots in counties that had a high number of signature mismatches.
Mr. Graham, speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill on Monday, denied that he had suggested to Mr. Raffensperger that he find a way to throw out legally cast ballots. He said that his conversation with the secretary of state covered questions about Georgia’s system of verifying signatures with absentee ballots.
Election officials in Georgia also announced Monday evening that they had discovered 2,600 ballots in Floyd County that had not been previously reported to the state, an error they attributed to “gross incompetence” on the part of the county’s elections director. The newly discovered ballots will reduce Mr. Biden’s margin by a few hundred votes, they said — not enough to put his victory in jeopardy.
Source: The NY Times
Keyword: No, the Georgia recount does not include reverifying signatures.