Ga. SOS announces hand-count audit of election ballots

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger responds to a question on the intent of people...
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger responds to a question on the intent of people who are believed to have voted twice in primary elections.
Updated: Nov. 11, 2020 at 11:44 AM EST
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - In Georgia, election workers will now hand-count all of the votes from the presidential election in what’s being called a “risk-limiting audit.”

Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger made the announcement Wednesday morning during a press briefing.

“It’s an audit, recanvas and a recount - all in one,” Raffensperger said.

It will all happen between now and the Nov. 20th state certification deadline.

He said the hand count is necessary because it “makes sense” when you look at how close the presidential race is. As of Wednesday morning, 14,101 votes separate Biden’s lead over Trump in Georgia.

In Georgia, the new voting system prints a paper receipt of each vote cast. Those along with absentee ballots will be hand-counted

Raffensperger acknowledged that this will mean a lot of overtime for election workers.

Also, the statewide runoff election for the Public Utility Commission seats will now happen on the same date as the two U.S. Senate race runoffs - Jan. 5th.

The Chatham County Board of Elections says they are still waiting for more information from the Secretary of State’s Office. Ultimately, they will begin training workers for the recount Thursday and how that will work is pending their discussion set for Thursday at 9 a.m.

Chairman Tom Mahoney says they have processed all available ballots and they are in the process of working to certify the results. While they have a meeting set to certify Thursday at 4 p.m., he says it’s looking less likely, but they have cushion to have it complete by Friday which is the deadline. As that work is happening a state recount will be underway.

It’s a big task to hand count and review every single ballot cast. 134,000 ballots by the state’s deadline of Nov. 20.

Chairman Mahoney says Chatham County has an advantage of being the only county in the state to hold a hand recount, so there is experience here. But again, that training and guidance from the state is still to be addressed Thursday.

The race Chatham County did recount was about 5,300 ballots, while this one will be 25 times more.

The election office says they are working to get the resources needed to address this. Obviously, they have a lot of work ahead of them in the coming days week and months.

“We’re trying to make sure that we go through the certification process, the risk limiting audit process and the anticipated recount. And we do that as effectively and efficiently as possible," said Mahoney.

Board of Elections Vice Chairman Malinda Hodge says their experience having already done a hand recount, will help.

“It’s just a bigger volume than what we were used to in that first experience so we are actually with some of the process that will be utilized I am performing that hand recount," said Hodge.

Because while they are working to certify, they are also preparing for the recount and a runoff.

Three state runoff-races will also now happen on January 5th. The race for Public Utility Commissioner, and two U.S. Senate seats.

The Board of Elections Chairman says this was a tremendous relief for election workers.

“We were about to pull our hair out. So, thank goodness that the state was able to consolidate those runoff dates," said Mahoney.

The Secretary of State says observers from both parties will be allowed to view the process.

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