Official: DeKalb will be ‘stretched thin’ to finish recount in time

November 13, 2020 Stonecrest: DeKalb County’s John Matelski (left) and Kevin Buford (right) set up tables before a walkthrough by officials Friday, Nov. 13, 2020 of the vote counting facility at the former Sam’s Club in Stonecrest, where it plans to start its part of the recount at 7 a.m. Saturday. Officials said the facility which was used as an early voting site for the election provides more space and allows for better social distancing than would be possible at the county’s elections office off Memorial Drive. Joe Biden led Donald Trump by 14,000 votes as of Friday morning. The cost of Georgia recount six-day recount isn’t known, but initial estimates from DeKalb County indicate it might be pricey. DeKalb officials said Friday the recount will cost about $180,000, including $147,000 in pay, $20,000 for food and beverages, and $12,000 for personal protective equipment and other coronavirus-related precautions. The numbers are preliminary and may change, according to DeKalb. (John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)
November 13, 2020 Stonecrest: DeKalb County’s John Matelski (left) and Kevin Buford (right) set up tables before a walkthrough by officials Friday, Nov. 13, 2020 of the vote counting facility at the former Sam’s Club in Stonecrest, where it plans to start its part of the recount at 7 a.m. Saturday. Officials said the facility which was used as an early voting site for the election provides more space and allows for better social distancing than would be possible at the county’s elections office off Memorial Drive. Joe Biden led Donald Trump by 14,000 votes as of Friday morning. The cost of Georgia recount six-day recount isn’t known, but initial estimates from DeKalb County indicate it might be pricey. DeKalb officials said Friday the recount will cost about $180,000, including $147,000 in pay, $20,000 for food and beverages, and $12,000 for personal protective equipment and other coronavirus-related precautions. The numbers are preliminary and may change, according to DeKalb. (John Spink / John.Spink@ajc.com)

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

Credit: JOHN SPINK / AJC

DeKalb County’s work on Georgia’s latest statewide recount was underway Tuesday. But officials said they may be hard-pressed to finish before next week’s deadline.

DeKalb elections workers spent much of Tuesday sorting the roughly 373,000 ballots cast in the county during the Nov. 3 election. Scanning was expected to begin in the early evening. And while other options were being explored, local elections officials said the state was only permitting a certain kind of high-speed scanner to be used for the effort — meaning they had only nine machines available to scan some 373,000 ballots.

DeKalb officials originally estimated they would have 50 scanners available.

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“We only have nine scanners available to use for this recount effort, so we are having to be creative with our staffing and resources,” DeKalb County elections director Erica Hamilton said in a news release. “When you add in a pair of runoffs and a major holiday taking place at the same time, we are stretched thin to accomplish the recount by the designated timeline.”

The state has set a deadline for the recount — which will be the third tabulation of results from Nov. 3′s election — at midnight on Wednesday, Dec. 2. Hamilton said the county has “moved swiftly to ask the Secretary of State for additional scanners to help us accomplish the recount.”

As of Tuesday, DeKalb planned to utilize around 100 staffers to batch and scan ballots during the recount. Operations are being held at a former Sam’s Club store on Turner Hill Road in Stonecrest, which was used as an early voting location and hosted DeKalb’s recent manual audit of presidential ballots.

The facility is more spacious than the county elections office and better equipped to accommodate social distancing and other COVID-19 related precautions, officials have said. Representatives from the county health department will be on hand throughout the recount to provide personal protective equipment and make sure pandemic protocols are followed.

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After the slightly later start Tuesday, DeKalb’s preliminary schedule calls for workers to be on duty between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. every day through next Monday, minus Thanksgiving Day. The crew would then take Tuesday off before finishing things up on Wednesday.

Officials said staffing and schedules would be adjusted as needed.

There were designated on-site locations for public observers, news outlets and monitors from the Secretary of State’s office and political parties, officials said. The process is also being livestreamed here.

Like the manual audit completed last week, the machine recount is not expected to dramatically change the results of the presidential race in Georgia. Democrat Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump by around 12,600 votes in the Peach State.

More than 83% of DeKalb voters favored Biden.

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