Although there is no evidence to suggest fraudulent activity occurred in Georgia during November’s election, the state’s top Republican leaders have voiced their support for additional criteria necessary to cast ballots by mail in future races.
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, both Republicans, separately vouched for new policies that would require absentee voters to submit photo identification alongside their mail ballots in remarks delivered last month, when the state certified its election results for Joe Biden.
Raffensperger, who has pushed back fiercely against Donald Trump’s unproven allegations that misconduct contributed to Georgia’s election outcome, called for reforming absentee ballot laws during a public address delivered November 20.
“I will work with legislators to find a solution that allows us to use the same security measures for votes by mail as we have for in-person voting,” he said. “That would include a photo ID requirement. We know this works.”
Amid the Trump campaign’s lawsuits aiming to halt, and later, reverse, Georgia’s certification, Raffensperger defended the state’s election procedures on several occasions and criticized attacks on their legitimacy. However, he acknowledged that an influx of mail-in ballots cast this year, as a result of the pandemic, “raised concerns about election integrity” during the November announcement.
Kemp advocated for Raffensperger’s proposed amendment to absentee voting protocols in remarks delivered later that day.
“Voters casting their ballots in person must show a photo ID, and we should consider applying that same standard to mail-in balloting,” the governor said, referencing the secretary of state’s comments.
“I’ve heard from many members of the general assembly, and I appreciate their input and share their concern,” Kemp continued. “I look forward to working with Lieutenant Governor Duncan, Speaker Ralston, and members of both bodies to address the issues that have been raised over the last several weeks.”
Cody Hall, a spokesperson from Kemp’s office, confirmed the governor’s “position has not changed” regarding photo identification requirements for absentee voters in a statement to Newsweek on Thursday.
The Trump campaign targeted Kemp and Raffensperger in the election’s aftermath. Most recently, the sitting president claimed even Georgia’s second presidential ballot audit would not yield accurate results without additional signature matching efforts to re-verify absentee voters’ identification.
The campaign’s more formal demands for repeat signature match procedures presented Georgia’s election officials with an impossible task, given that mail ballots are removed from their respective envelopes for privacy reasons after signatures are initially verified. Moreover, Raffensperger noted that Georgia “strengthened signature match this year” in a statement issued November 15, which explained that election workers are trained to confirm matches twice before ballots are considered verified. The state also established an online portal for voters to request absentee ballots digitally ahead of the election, and those who used it were required to submit photo identification.
“In this state, voters cast their ballots in secret so that no political party or candidate can ever intimidate nor threaten a voter into changing his or her vote. We will continue to protect the integrity of the vote,” Raffensperger said.
As reported by 11alive.com, election workers continued finalize results of Georgia’s statewide ballot recount, which followed a manual audit of all votes cast for president, on Thursday. The recount is not expected to alter the state’s election outcome.
Newsweek reached out to Raffensperger’s office for further comment, but did not receive a reply in time for publication.
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