(The Center Square) – Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp called on Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Friday to complete a sample audit of the signatures on the absentee ballots cast in the general election.
Kemp's recommendation came two days after the state completed a full hand recount and audit of the election results in the presidential election.
Raffensperger's office finished a weeklong hand recount of the more than 5 million votes cast in the Nov. 3 presidential election late Wednesday night. Election workers are required to review the signatures on absentee ballots before they are scanned to be counted.
When an absentee ballot request form is received via mail by county election offices, workers compare the signature on the request form to the voter's signature on file. The state's online portal for absentee ballot requests requires voters to use their driver's license number to confirm their identity, officials said. The ballot is returned in a discreet envelope that voters sign, agreeing to an oath.
Kemp said Raffensperger should order election workers to go back and compare the signatures on absentee ballot request forms to what was submitted with the ballot. Kemp said he has spoken to General Assembly leaders about proposing legislation that would require photo identification to be submitted with absentee ballots.
President Donald Trump, who lost the state to presumptive President-elect Joe Biden by more than 12,000 votes, has been calling on state officials, throughout the week, to review absentee ballot signatures.
Kemp said Friday he was contacted by several Georgians who were concerned about the signatures. Raffensperger's office released Wednesday the rejection rate for absentee ballots with signature issues. It showed the 2020 general election's rejection rate was the same as the 2018 general election's rate.
Kemp also said many Georgians questioned the hand recount's accuracy because it uncovered more than 5,000 missing votes.
"It is important for Georgians to know that the vast majority of local election workers did their job well under unprecedented circumstances, and I thank them for their service," Kemp said. "However, it's quite honestly hard to believe that during the audit, thousands of uncounted ballots were found weeks after a razor-thin outcome in a presidential election."
Raffensperger's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment after Kemp spoke Friday afternoon. Kemp, however, said Raffensperger expressed support for the proposed photo identification requirement.
Raffensperger presented the certified election results to Kemp's office Friday afternoon, and the governor formalized the certification but demanded Raffensperger provide a full explanation for the recovered votes ahead of Georgia's runoff elections in January for U.S. Senate and public service commissioner.
"In the runoff election, we cannot have lost memory cards or stacks of uncounted ballots," Kemp said. "We must have full transparency in all monitoring and counting. Every legal vote must be counted, and the security of the ballot box must be protected."