Ballot numbers start to roll in as local counties wrap up audits

Published: Nov. 17, 2020 at 4:36 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The post-election audit in both Richmond and Columbia counties has wrapped up after both counties had more than 80,000 ballots to go through by hand.

They finished well before the Wednesday night deadline. But did it change anything?

Richmond County election officials are still working to finalize the remaining details of this audit.

But as of now, they say they’ve noticed nothing out of the ordinary.

This entire process started Friday morning, and it’s still not completely over just yet.

“All the ballots seem to be properly accounted for, and we didn’t have any wonky paperwork or anything that caused us alarm,” Lynn Bailey, executive director of the Richmond County Board of Elections, said.

Bailey and her team spent Tuesday putting their hand-counted numbers in the computer system.

More than 40 two-person teams wrapped up their counting Monday at the Bell Auditorium.

“Finishing up our final entry into the auditing software, double-checking our numbers that we put in, and making sure that they match the manifest of ballots that we are supposed to have put in,” Bailey said.

The audited numbers will go to the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office. But this risk-limiting audit is a lesson learned because election officials had never done this before.

“We learned ways we could’ve batched our ballots as we counted them Election Night,” Bailey explained.

She initially thought the audit would cost the neighborhood of $50-60,000 But she says because they got it done quicker, it’s likely going to cost around $30,000.

They were allowed to use the Bell Auditorium for free, so those costs are for labor and other basic expenses.

“We did have, I don’t know, $115,000 or so set aside to do a December runoff that didn’t happen,” Bailey said.

That money will cover the audit, the January runoff, and yes, a potential official recount.

“It’s conceivable that after the Secretary of State’s Office certifies their results on Friday that the losing campaign could at that point come back and ask for a technical recount,” Bailey said.

Election officials say their goal is to submit their audit to the state by Tuesday night. But they won’t rush it, as they have until Wednesday at midnight.

Bailey also says there were five ballots unaccounted for. Officials believe these are five write-in votes that were not properly recorded at the time they were reviewed by the audit teams.

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