Georgia election officials hope third time’s a charm as they ready for new recount

By: - November 23, 2020 12:49 pm

Auditors unpack absentee ballots in Macon on Nov. 13, the first day of Georgia’s 2020 presidential election statewide hand count. Eight months later, some Georgia voters are still on a quest for an in-depth inspection of absentee ballots. Credit: Grant Blankenship/GPB News

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger will soon announce when local elections offices will start counting the presidential race ballots for the third time.   

Raffensperger said running each of the 5 million ballots through high-speed scanners will take at least several days to complete. He’ll work with local election supervisors to set a schedule as they consider the Thanksgiving holidays and the toll the just-completed hand recount took on election workers. That recount that served as an audit showed no significant difference from the original electronic tally for the Nov. 3 election. 

President Donald Trump’s campaign requested this latest recount Saturday after a razor-thin margin of 12,670 votes separated him from President-elect Democrat Joe Biden and Georgia’s 16 electorates. The official results have the former vice president with 2.47 million votes to Trump’s 2.46 million. 

“It’ll be quicker than obviously the hand count, so we’ll work expeditiously to go through the recount, and report those results as well,” Raffensperger said in an interview Friday with Georgia Public Broadcasting’s Political Rewind. 

While Trump continues to challenge the presidential election in a handful of key battleground states, early voting starts Dec. 14 for the Jan. 5 U.S. Senate runoffs pitting Republican Sen. David Perdue against Democrat Jon Ossoff and GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler against Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock.

Perdue and Loeffler, who’ve called upon fellow Republican Raffensperger to resign over unspecified election “failures”, are backing Trump’s push for the results to be verified a third time. 

“We’re grateful to have two Senators who fully support President Trump’s request for a fully transparent recount for the presidential election in our state,” said Georgia Republican Party Executive Director Stewart Bragg. “It shouldn’t be controversial to say that every legal vote should be counted and illegal votes should not be counted, but the Democrats and the media have made it that way.”

On Monday morning, the state election board approved an extension of emergency rules allowing counties to continue using absentee ballot drop boxes throughout the Jan. 5 runoffs. 

The election board also amended a rule to mandate counties have to start processing but not counting absentee ballots at least a week before Jan. 5.

A record 1.3 million Georgians voted via no-excuse absentee ballots for the Nov. 3 general election and the mostly mailed-in ballots are the focus of unfounded charges of election fraud by the president’s loyalists. So far, 762,000 absentee ballots have been requested for the runoff or are part of an automatic rollover list for the disabled and people over 65.

“We want to finish up tabulating the election as soon as possible since an upcoming Congress and Senate will be seated,” Raffensperger said. “It’s really in Georgia’s best interest and the nation’s best interest that we finish this race up. But also, it was very frustrating that some counties had kept up with this process and others did not.”

This story is from the Georgia Recorder, an affiliate of the nonprofit States Newsroom that includes the Florida Phoenix.

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Stanley Dunlap
Stanley Dunlap

Stanley Dunlap is a reporter at the Georgia Recorder, part of the nonprofit States Newsroom that includes the Florida Phoenix. Dunlap has covered government and politics for news outlets in Georgia and Tennessee for the past decade. He is a graduate of the University of Memphis.