No fraudulent absentee ballots were identified during signature audit in Cobb
After a hand recount and a subsequent machine recount requested by the Trump campaign, a signature audit has again affirmed the original outcome of the November 2020 presidential race in Georgia. A signature match audit in Cobb County found "no fraudulent absentee ballots" and found that the Cobb County Elections Department had "a 99.99% accuracy rate in performing correct signature verification procedures."
"The Secretary of State's office has always been focused on calling balls and strikes in elections and, in this case, three strikes against the voter fraud claims and they're out," said Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. "We conducted a statewide hand recount that reaffirmed the initial tally, and a machine recount at the request of the Trump campaign that also reaffirmed the original tally. This audit disproves the only credible allegations the Trump campaign had against the strength of Georgia's signature match processes."
On December 14, 2020, Secretary Raffensperger announced a signature match audit in Cobb County following credible allegations that the process was not followed in the June primaries. The Secretary of State's Office partnered with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) to conduct the audit. Of the 150,431 absentee ballots received by Cobb County elections officials during the November elections, the audit "reviewed 15,118 ABM ballot oath envelopes from randomly selected boxes," or around 10% of the total. The sample size was originally chosen to meet the 99% confidence threshold.
The audit found "no fraudulent absentee ballots" with a 99% confidence threshold. The audit found that only two ballots should have been identified by Cobb County Elections Officials for cure notification that weren't. In one case, the ballot was "mistakenly signed by the elector's spouse," and in the other, the voter "reported signing the front of the envelope only." In both cases, the identified voters filled out the ballots themselves.
The absentee ballot envelopes for the audit were "pulled from 30 randomly selected boxes of the accepted ABM ballots and one box identified as accepted Electronic Ballot Delivery ABM ballots." Each of the boxes that held the ballots were previously "secured in boxes by the Cobb County Elections Department" and were selected by a random number generator.
To conduct the audit, Law Enforcement Officers (LEOs), from GBI and SOS were instructed to "analyze and compare the known signatures, markings, and identifying information of the elector as stored in databases with the signature, markings, and identifying information on the elector's ABM ballot oath envelope." They looked for "distinctive characteristics and unique qualities ... individual attributes of the signature, mark, or other identifying information" to "make a judgment of the validity of the signature on each envelope based on the totality of the documents."
The LEOs conducting the audit were split "into 18 two-member teams identified as 'inspection teams' and two three-member teams identified as 'investigation teams.'" If the two members of the inspection team were split on whether a ballot signature was valid, a third impartial "referee" was brought in to break the tie. This only happened on six occasions.
In cases where additional review was necessary, if no signature was on the ballot, or if additional identification documents were not available, the absentee ballots were given to the investigation teams to track down more information.
The inspection teams submitted 396 envelopes to the investigation teams for comparison with additional documents or follow-up with the elector." 386 of those were accepted as valid. The remaining ten were referred for additional investigation. "All ten electors were located, positively identified, and interviewed."
The LEOs used the Cobb County Elections Database which included signature information from voter registration forms, absentee ballot applications, voter certificates, passports, certificates of naturalization, in addition to other documents.
The full report is available here: https://sos.ga.gov/admin/uploads/Cobb%20County%20ABM%20Audit%20Report%2020201229.pdf