FILE - Brad Raffensperger SOS

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger speaks Monday, Nov. 30, 2020, during a news conference in Atlanta.

(The Center Square) – Georgia will do a signature match audit of absentee ballots in Cobb County to help reinforce election integrity in the state.

The audit is expected to take two weeks, and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said it will not change the outcome of the November election, which showed President-elect Joe Biden won Georgia over President Donald Trump.

“Election integrity has been a top priority since day one of my administration,” Raffensperger said in a statement. “Though the outcome of the race in Georgia will not change, conducting this audit follows in the footsteps of the audit-triggered hand recount we conducted in November to provide further confidence in the accuracy, security, and reliability of the vote in Georgia.”

Raffensperger said the secretary of state's office would partner with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to conduct the audit after allegations that election workers in Cobb County had not adequately conducted signature matching on absentee ballot applications before the June primary. The audit will review a statistically significant subset of the signed absentee ballot envelopes and compare the signatures with ones on file in Georgia’s voter registration system, Raffensperger said.

"I am glad Secretary Raffensperger has finally taken this necessary step to begin restoring confidence in our state's election processes," Gov. Brian Kemp said in a statement. "I have called for a signature audit repeatedly since the November 3rd election. As Georgians head back to the polls for the January 5th runoffs, it is absolutely vital for every vote cast to be legal and for only legal votes to be counted."

Both of Georgia's U.S. Senate seats are up for grabs in runoff elections Jan. 5. Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. David Perdue faces Democrat challenger Jon Ossoff, and Democrat Raphael Warnock is challenging Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler. Those races will determine which party holds the majority in the U.S. Senate moving forward.

Early voting in those races started Monday.

Managing Editor

Jason Schaumburg is an award-winning, veteran editor who has been a journalist for more than 20 years. He spent a decade as the top editor in three northern Illinois newsrooms for Shaw Media and Pioneer Press.