RECOUNT: With close presidential race, Georgia looks to add up votes again

Published: Nov. 6, 2020 at 4:43 AM EST
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ATLANTA (WRDW/WAGT) - Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said there will be a recount in the Peach State after overnight ballot counts put former Vice President Joe Biden just slightly ahead of President Donald Trump.

Raffensperger said there are still several thousand absentee votes to be counted across three counties. However, more than 8,000 military ballots could be cast if they are returned by the close of business Friday.

Still, the secretary of state said with the margin between Trump and Biden, a recount was on the horizon.

“Right now, Georgia remains to close the call of approximately 5 million votes cast will have a margin of a few thousand,” Raffensperger said. “The focus for our office, and for the county election officials, for now, remains on making sure that every legal vote is counted and recorded accurately. As we are closing in on a final count, we can begin to look toward our next steps. With a margin that’s small, there will be a recount in Georgia. Interest in our election, obviously goes far beyond Georgia’s borders."

Georgia law indicates a candidate can request a recount if the margin between two candidates is .5 percent or less. That request must be made within two days of the state certifying the race. That date, according to state law, is Nov. 20 at 5 p.m.

Trump had been ahead in the race, but the shift to Biden was reported around 4:30 a.m. today. It happened after some numbers came in from Clayton County — an area that was represented by the late Rep. John Lewis, a Democrat and civil right icon.

Biden also pulled ahead in the hotly contested battleground state of Pennsylvania.

Biden’s momentum from mail-in votes has brought about the change in fortune for Trump in Georgia, which hasn’t chosen a Democrat for president since Bill Clinton in 1992.

On Tuesday night, Trump was ahead in Georgia in terms of votes cast on Election Day, but as mail-in ballots started being tabulated, Biden started to gain on the president. The mail-in votes have been heavily Democratic, and many of the ones now being counted in Georgia are from high-population Democratic-leaning counties around Atlanta.

Although progress is being made in counting the outstanding ballots, election workers aren’t done yet.

The Georgia Secretary of State’s Office said around 10:30 a.m., there were still 4,169 votes were still out.

Totals by county included:

  • Cherokee: 150
  • Cobb: 75
  • Floyd: 444
  • Gwinnett: 3,500

At a news conference Thursday, Gabriel Sterling of the Secretary of State’s Office said that regardless of what was left, state and county officials are determined to get things right.

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.”

Election workers count votes this week in Chatham County.
Election workers count votes this week in Chatham County.(WRDW)

The state’s elections chief, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, says although the vote counting is full of suspense, election workers are focusing on accuracy.

He 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.”

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)

At a news conference Wednesday, 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 places that were current with absentee ballots as they began to be tabulated, but a large influx put election workers 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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