New Monday: Georgia recount finds uncounted ballots in Floyd County
Several metro Atlanta counties finished or nearly completed their manual vote recounts Sunday and reported no significant problems, despite continued allegations without evidence by President Donald Trump that the state’s count was rigged.
Elections officers in Fulton, Georgia’s most populous county, finished recounting votes shortly before 4 p.m. Sunday. DeKalb County was almost done. Gwinnett County expected to cross the finish line Monday. Cobb County still needed to recount some votes.
Counties in other parts of the state also reported progress. Coastal Chatham County had counted all but a few absentee ballots, all but one precinct of Election Day ballots, and had started counting early voting ballots by early Sunday, the Savannah Morning News reported.
The labor-intensive statewide recount ordered last week by Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger must be concluded by 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, 15 days after voting in the tightly contested presidential election ended. Results for all of Georgia’s 159 counties will be released all at once after all counties finish.
Results before the recount began late last week showed former Vice President Joe Biden narrowly beat Trump in Georgia by more than 14,000 votes out of about 5 million votes cast, becoming the first Democrat to carry the state since 1992.
Elections officials in Georgia and across the nation have said there are no indications of widespread voter fraud. But Trump has refused to concede to Biden in Georgia or elsewhere, alleging widespread fraud without proof as Republicans challenge vote counts in some states.
“Doing a great job in Georgia. Their recount is a scam, means nothing. Must see fraudulent signatures which is prohibited by stupidly signed & unconstitutional consent decree,” Trump tweeted Sunday.
As he did on Saturday, Trump highlighted a legal settlement that Raffensperger, a fellow Republican, made with the Democratic Party of Georgia last spring that tightened procedures for rejecting absentee ballots over the legitimacy of a voter’s signature. But state and federal laws ensure ballot secrecy, and there is no attempt in recounts to match ballots to specific voters in the manner Trump appeared to advocate.
Lawyers for the Biden campaign said Sunday afternoon that the first days of Georgia’s recount have proven that the state’s voting system “accurately counted the votes.”
“We continue to agree with the Secretary of State that there is no reason to believe that any widespread irregularities have been found,” Patrick Moore, president of Biden’s legal team, told reporters.
Much of the remaining work in some counties consists of data entry to the Secretary of State’s office.
Fulton County officials said they finished early Sunday because more employees volunteered to help count. Rick Barron, the county’s elections director, told reporters he did not expect major changes in the vote total.
“Whenever you have humans looking at something, there’s going to be an overall difference in the count," he said during a morning news conference. "I don’t expect the margin or the overall results to change.”
Even if Georgia’s recount results in Trump winning the state’s 16 electoral votes, he would still be behind Biden in the national Electoral College that determines the president.
Credit: Rebecca Wright for the Atlanta J
Credit: Rebecca Wright for the Atlanta J
Much of the focus in Georgia has been on mail-in ballots. Voters insert marked absentee ballots into an official envelope, to which they add their signature. Election workers verify the signature against voter-registration records, then remove the ballot and segregate it from the envelope. If the signature does not appear to match, the ballot is set aside, although voters can take steps to prove their identities before the election results are certified.
In Gwinnett, 789 mail-in ballots arrived without signatures. Voters were notified and had time to come in and “cure” the ballot by providing evidence that they were the voter behind the ballot. County spokesman Joe Sorenson said 472 of the 789 ballots in question were cured. There were 425 ballots marked as a signature mismatch. Of those, 259 were cured.
In DeKalb, the elections department moved the table where the ballot tallies were entered into a spreadsheet and shared with the Secretary of State’s office in response to observers demanding a better look at the process.
Scott Johnson, a former chair of the Cobb GOP, was observing at Jim Miller Park Sunday. He expressed concern the recount was not verifying the validity of mail-in ballots.
“I think the process that’s going on here today is going smoothly and very well. Is it enough to assure a fully free and fair election? I’m not convinced of that,” Johnson said.
Gwinnett officials hoped to finish their count Sunday, but some workers were exhausted. The county plans to finish the count Monday and share results with the Secretary of State’s office by Tuesday.
--Staff writers Tamar Hallerman, Meris Lutz, Adrianne Murchison, Mark Niesse, Christopher Quinn and David Wickert contributed to this report.
In order to observe this historic undertaking, several of Georgia newspapers are collaborating to provide you with a statewide view. The Athens Banner-Herald, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Augusta Chronicle, The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer, The Macon Telegraph and The Savannah Morning News will share their collective work with you until the recount is complete.