Overall, the results of the hand recount — both in Fulton and all of Georgia — were similar to two machine counts, showing that Democrat Joe Biden won the state by about 12,000 votes against Republican Donald Trump.
Two Houston County residents had claimed to Kemp there were batches of Fulton ballots with 100% of votes for Biden, duplicated batches and incorrect data.
The investigation indicated that the allegations can be explained by mistakes by election workers during the first-ever statewide election audit, which included a review of over 525,000 Fulton paper ballots.
“What could have happened is, they took the batches and divided them by candidate,” said Vincent Zagorin, an investigator for the secretary of state’s office. “So somewhere in here we have the other candidate with numbers that would be 100-to-0 the other way” for Trump.
The final machine recount was the official tally, while the hand recount was designed as a way for humans to manually verify that printed ballots generally matched computer scans. In Fulton, the hand recount gained Trump 345 more net votes than Biden.
“Everything balanced out overall with the numbers,” said Nadine Williams, interim elections director for Fulton County. “If it would have changed to different results, there would have been a concern ... but the results did not change.”
Many inconsistencies can be explained by data entry errors, Zagorin said. For example, election workers labeled ballot scanners incorrectly, transcribed the wrong vote totals from paper forms into audit software, or wrote incorrect ballot batch numbers.
In one case, workers conflated the numbers “97″ and “47″ because handwriting on a batch sheet made the four look like a nine.
“If this were an annual report for a company, it would not be left standing as a credible accounting document,” said Joe Rossi, one of the Houston County residents who alleged inconsistencies in Fulton’s audit. “A presidential election is as important as a company’s annual report.”
After the attorney general’s office reviews the case, Fulton could face fines, reprimands or other sanctions from the State Election Board.
A performance review of Fulton’s elections is already underway, and then the State Election Board could decide to replace the county’s elections board with its appointee. State takeovers of county election offices are allowed as part of Georgia’s voting law passed last year, Senate Bill 202.