Georgia vote discrepancies reconciled on last day of recount

11/17/2020 Ñ  Marietta, Georgia Ñ Cobb County elections workers continue to count and sort ballots during a Cobb County  hand recount of Presidential votes at the Jim Miller Park Event Center  in Marietta, Tuesday, November 17, 2020.  (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)
11/17/2020 Ñ Marietta, Georgia Ñ Cobb County elections workers continue to count and sort ballots during a Cobb County hand recount of Presidential votes at the Jim Miller Park Event Center in Marietta, Tuesday, November 17, 2020. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Election officials corrected vote counting mistakes and explained an allegation by the Republican Party about miscounted DeKalb County ballots on Wednesday, the final day of Georgia’s manual recount.

The latest unofficial count puts Joe Biden 12,781 votes ahead of President Donald Trump, who gained about 1,400 votes this week that county election officials initially failed to count.

There’s no indication of broader problems beyond three counties that didn’t load all votes from memory cards and one county that didn’t rescan all ballots after an optical scanner was replaced because of a technical issue, said Gabriel Sterling, Georgia’s voting system manager.

Three of the four counties that had issues are Republican-leaning politically.

When the recount and audit exposed issues, election workers fixed them before results are finalized, Sterling said.

“The system is working the way it’s intended,” Sterling said. “These people are operating under the highest level of stress, in the most contentious election in their work life in the United States and in Georgia. So for the most part they are doing a really good job on this.”

Other allegations about vote counting errors were caught before they had an impact beyond social media.

That’s the case with a claim made by Georgia Republican Party Chairman David Shafer, who wrote on Twitter that the party’s audit monitors found a form attached to a batch of votes in DeKalb County that had been miscalculated, which would have given Biden a tremendous lead.

The Republican monitor wrote in an affidavit that after raising the issue, the count for that batch of recounted ballots was off by two votes, not the 9,626 that he had initially said.

DeKalb election officials corrected the initial numbers before reporting the actual recount figures to the state.

“This was a non-event, non-issue kind of thing. But it does help stir the pot to a degree, which is unfortunate,” Sterling said. “That’s why we put the quality control measures in, to make sure that everything lines up and has a logical rationale behind it.”

A Republican member of the DeKalb elections board criticized Shafer for leading voters to believe election workers had miscounted ballots.

“This is a childish and irresponsible tweet," said DeKalb elections board member Baoky Vu.

Sterling acknowledged that election officials will have to improve their processes to ensure that all memory cards that contain votes from optical scanners are accounted for.

Missed memory cards caused initial vote counting errors in Douglas, Fayette and Walton counties. In Floyd County, election workers didn’t rescan about 2,600 ballots after replacing an optical scanner, he said. Initial reports that the problem in Floyd was related to a missed memory card weren’t accurate.

Those votes are being rescanned, counted and added to statewide totals.

The Biden campaign remained confident that they’ll hold their lead in Georgia.

“There have been some minor shifts in vote totals,” said Patrick Moore, an attorney for the Biden campaign. “It is nothing surprising — in fact, it’s a demonstration that it’s working the way it should.”

The recount and audit was on schedule to be completed by 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday.

Then Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger must certify Georgia’s election results by the end of the day on Friday, according to state law.

— Staff writer Tyler Estep contributed to this article.

In Other News