Georgia counties push on in second day of vote counting



County elections officials across Georgia tallied runoff ballots Wednesday, for a second day, as news organizations declared Democrats Jon Ossoff and the Rev. Raphael Warnock the winners of the two marquee U.S. Senate races.

Most Georgia counties reported the lion’s share of their ballots Tuesday night and into Wednesday, with some absentee ballots, provisional ballots, ones in need of curing, and overseas military votes making up the bulk of what’s left to count.

Fulton County will have to wait longer to finalize its vote tally. The county postponed its adjudication process due to safety concerns following unrest in downtown Atlanta and in the nation’s capital on Wednesday, Fulton spokeswoman Jessica Corbitt said.

This process is required for Fulton to submit its final ballots.

Fulton County finished counting nearly all of its ballots on Tuesday but resumed at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday with 7,500 absentee ballots to process. The county had planned to adjudicate ballots at 3 p.m.

Corbitt said she did not have a date or time of when the adjudication process would resume.

DeKalb County reported the largest number of votes left to count at the start of Wednesday. At about 5 p.m., officials estimated they still had approximately 12,000 votes to upload, consisting of absentee, military, overseas and provisional ballots.

Additionally, there are 440 ballots in DeKalb that need to be cured, or have technical defects fixed, before they can be accepted.

“We are continuing to work diligently to count each and every ballot and we can see the finish line,” said Erica Hamilton, director of DeKalb Voter Registration and Elections. “We know everyone is anxious for our final numbers and I appreciate the patience and support of our constituents.”

In Gwinnett County, the state’s second-largest, elections chief Kristi Royston said Election Day went smoothly, despite higher in-person voting than the Nov. 3 general election. She said her staff kept up with the flood of absentee ballots.

Royston said before noon Wednesday that about 62% of voters turned out for the Tuesday runoff, a remarkably high number for the county. Runoffs typically draw about 15% to 30%, she said, depending upon the race.

“So impressed with turnout here in the general election and with this runoff,” she said. “Runoffs can be so disappointing.”

Royston said Gwinnett received about 4,800 absentee ballots on Tuesday, those in drop boxes or delivered by mail, arrived before polls closed. Workers opened envelopes, batched and sorted the ballots Wednesday morning to prepare to count them. Gwinnett workers reported those ballots about 4 p.m.

There are about 900 provisional ballots in Gwinnett that the elections board will need to review and count, if approved. That will take place Monday morning. The county also said about 1,370 overseas military ballots could come in, but they must be received by 5 p.m. Friday to be counted.

Vote curing is also ongoing with voters returning ballots with signature issues. Those will be accepted through 5 p.m. Friday. Royston said there were about 1,000 ballots in need of curing.

“We’re looking to certify with the board of elections on Monday morning at 9:30,” Royston said. “That’s the goal.”

Cobb County spokesman Ross Cavitt said the Elections Office would scan 7,263 ballots by the end of the day. Cobb also has 668 provisional ballots from Election Day and early voting that officials are still investigating.

That process could take a few days and if they are determined to be valid, they can be processed and uploaded on Saturday.

Staff writers Ben Brasch, Kristal Dixon and Ernie Suggs contributed to this report.