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Georgia presidential count tightens in scan of last ballots

Published: Nov. 5, 2020 at 4:53 AM EST
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ATLANTA (WRDW/WAGT) - Votes are still being counted in Atlanta-area counties as Americans watch from around the nation to see whether Georgia will give Democrat Joe Biden the electoral votes he needs to become president.

State officials said just before 10 a.m. today that 61,367 votes were still out.

Gabriel Sterling, Georgia’s voting implementation manager, spoke on behalf of Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Thursday morning and detailed which counties had the outstanding ballots:

  • Bryant County: 3,027
  • Burke County: 494
  • Chatham County: 17,157
  • Clayton County: 7,408
  • Cobb County: 700
  • Floyd County: 682
  • Forsyth County: 4,713
  • Fulton County: 11,200
  • Gwinnett County: 7,300
  • Harris County: 3,641
  • Laurens County: 1,797
  • Putnam County: 1,550
  • Taylor County: 456

Sterling said regardless of what’s left, state and county officials are determined to get things right.

“That’s the anticipation is we will continue to go through the process throughout the day and into the evening if necessary,” Sterling said.

But mostly, Sterling said, it would be important for elections officials around the state to be allowed to continue their jobs.

“These are 159 elections directors and employees who are here to the job of protecting democracy,” Sterling said. “When you go to talk to them, they think about that, they think about the votes of every person in this room and around the country. These people are not involved in voter fraud. These people are not involved in voter suppression. I’m telling you they’re doing their jobs every day. It is hard. And we are thankful to them for it and we’re going to work with them to make sure that every legal lawful ballot is counted.”

With a tight margin and votes still being counted, the race between President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden is too early to call.

Deputy Secretary of State Jordan Fuchs said the final margin may be as small as 1,000 votes.

An election inspector looks at an absentee ballot as vote counting in the general election...
An election inspector looks at an absentee ballot as vote counting in the general election continues at State Farm Arena, Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)(WRDW)

As vote counting continues in counties across Georgia, the state’s elections chief says the focus is on accuracy.

Much of the counting is in metro Atlanta.

DeKalb County officials finished counting nearly 370,000 votes around 12:45 a.m. today.

In the Peach State’s largest county, Fulton, there were 10,000 absentee ballots left to count as of 4 a.m. today,

In Gwinett County, election officials say they may be counting through the weekend. A software glitch slowed them down while counting more than 118,000 ballots.

“Officials in numerous counties are continuing to count ballots, with strong security protocols in place to protect the integrity of our election,” Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said late Wednesday in a statement. “We have long anticipated – and said publicly – that counting would most likely take place into Wednesday night and perhaps Thursday morning. We’re on pace to accomplish that responsibly, ensuring that the voice of every eligible voter is heard. It’s important to act quickly, but it’s more important to get it right.”

Raffensperger said these security measures are in place to secure the vote and increase public confidence in the electoral process:

  • Absentee drop boxes were locked at 7 p.m. Tuesday evening, preventing illegal voting or potential fraud.
  • Surveillance cameras monitored drop boxes at all times.
  • A state monitor is in the room with Fulton County for all counts and the public is welcome to observe any county as an added layer of transparency.
  • A precertification audit will provide additional confidence that the votes were accurately counted.

“We’re well aware that with a close presidential election and the possibility of runoffs in some elections that the eyes of the state and the nation are upon Georgia at this time,” Raffensperger said. “We’re as anxious as anyone to see the final results and to start work on certification and planning for our runoff elections. As the work goes on, I want to assure Georgia voters that every legal vote was cast and accurately counted.”

His statements came hours after a news conference Wednesday where he praised his team of elections officials across the state for performing an election in the middle of a pandemic.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger gives an update on the vote-counting process...
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger gives an update on the vote-counting process during a news conference Wednesday.(WRDW)

“Thank you to every election official who met every struggle, and every challenge. In the middle of a pandemic, it was tough, and we overcame all the challenges,” Raffensperger said.

But with President Donald Trump calling for an end to “voting,” Raffensperger was asked about the integrity and counting of the outstanding ballots.

“We’re saying that every legal ballot will be counted in Georgia because that’s our process,” Raffensperger said. “We follow state law.”

Meanwhile, Raffensperger singled out Richmond County as one of the counties that were current with absentee ballots as they began to be tabulated, but a large influx put them behind.

“The state election board gave the counties the authority that they could begin the process of scanning the absentee ballots, which is very helpful so I know that down to Muskogee County and Richmond County,” Raffensperger said. “They were really current with everything they had received, but then all of a sudden, we also had additional ballots come in on Monday and then Tuesday, so they’re being dropped in. So they had to, they had to scan those. And so they’ll be getting that as soon as they can, but it is a two-page ballot. It just takes longer to get those ready for the scanning process.”

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