Why are investigators in Georgia conducting a signature match audit of the election that is shrouded in so much secrecy that even White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows was not allowed in the room?
He paid an unannounced visit, accompanied by Secret Service agents, to the Cobb County Civic Center in Marietta on Tuesday afternoon, to observe the audit of the county’s November absentee ballot envelopes.
Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs told the Associated Press that Meadows was not allowed in the room where the audit was underway, “but he was able to peer through the door window” from the hallway.
Fuchs said she was only given 45 minutes notice of his arrival and he asked her about the “quality” of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to conduct the probe. He also asked specific questions about how the state is conducting the audit during the roughly 20-minute visit.
“I’m not making any allegations as much as I am trying to get to the truth,” Meadows was overheard saying, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution report on Tuesday.
Georgia Republican State Senator Brandon Beach, who represents District 21, complained to radio host John Frederick earlier this week that Republicans have only been able to watch the signature verifiers while they are conducting the audit, not the actual signature matching process.
“And fun fact: technically the chiefs of staff, me and Mark Meadows are not allowed in the [investigation] room,” Fuchs told WSB Channel 2’s investigative reporter Nicole Carr. Fuchs “fielded Meadows’ questions near the doorway of the investigation room,” according to Carr.
“The limited signature audit takes teams of GBI agents and state election investigators to examine the absentee envelope signatures, which were separated from the actual ballot when they were processed. That ensures a secret ballot, a right that’s cemented in the state constitution. Signatures are matched twice during the ballot count process,” Carr added.
The signatures are compared to public state records, including driving services forms, she explained.
“We’re looking for similarities,” Agent in charge Bahan Rich told Carr. “We’re looking for consistency. Consistency in shapes of letter. We’re looking for slants, if you will, in shapes of letters.”
In this process you can have up to five different individuals looking at the envelopes,” Rich added. “Those that are designated that still need even more review, then we’ll physically go down to the (office), and look at documents in possession of the Cobb County’s election office, and go from there regarding the particular envelope.”
David Shafer, Chairman of the Georgia Republican Party, said the audit should be broadened to include Fulton County, citing concerns about the county’s process for verifying signatures.
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger also announced last Thursday that his office would be partnering with the University of Georgia to analyze a “random sampling” of signatures from absentee ballots in the state’s 159 counties, even though the election was a contest between mainly Republicans and Democrats.
“We are confident that elections in Georgia are secure, reliable and effective,” Mr. Raffensperger said in a press release Thursday. “Despite endless lawsuits and wild allegations from Washington, D.C. pundits, we have seen no actual evidence of widespread voter fraud, though we are investigating all credible reports.”
“Nonetheless, we look forward to working with the University of Georgia on this signature match review to further instill confidence in Georgia’s voting systems,” he said.