Former Vice President Joe Biden opened up a slightly larger lead over President Donald Trump in Georgia early Saturday as absentee ballots continued to be counted.
RELATED: Look here for updates for Sunday Nov. 8
More Georgia election updates
Shortly after 7 a.m., roughly 7,200 votes separated the two candidates, according to the Secretary of State’s office. Biden gained ground as a trove of provisional ballots from Democratic-leaning Fulton County was reported overnight.
Biden’s lead is still a fraction of 1%, with Biden taking 49.4% of votes compared to 49.3% for Trump.
Here’s the latest:
7:50 p.m. Friday
Gwinnett counting final ballots Saturday
Gwinnett County is done counting for the day.
On deck for the suburban Atlanta stronghold: three military ballots and 535 absentee ballots that had to be cured with a signature — meaning a signature was either missing or did not match a voter’s signature as it appeared on their government ID.
The Gwinnett County Board of Voter Registrations and Elections must meet to approve 935 provisional ballots and determine which can be counted. That meeting is likely to take place Saturday, but plans had not yet been finalized by 7 p.m. Friday.
County election offices have until Nov. 13 — next Friday — to certify their results.
For those wondering about how the AJC tallies uncounted mail-in ballots
This Twitter thread from AJC data guru Jennifer Peebles is worthy of your time:
Fulton promises last ballots will be counted by Saturday morning
Fulton officials says the county’s final tally should be live when folks wake up Saturday.
Georgia’s most populated county is still counting the last 3,612 provisional ballots and less than 900 military and overseas ballots.
State sifting through 22,600 military, overseas, provisional ballots
The Secretary of State’s office released more details this evening about that mysterious trove of military, overseas and provisional ballots that officials will be processing in addition to absentees.
As of this afternoon, there were approximately 8,410 outstanding military and overseas ballots, in addition to 14,200 provisional ballots that have been received by county elections officials.
Gwinnett’s latest count adds more votes to Biden lead
Gwinnett County has completed its work scrutinizing and counting absentee ballots, bringing Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s lead in the county to 18.2 percentage points.
Biden is narrowly leading President Donald Trump in the race for Georgia’s 16 electoral votes. The latest cache of votes moves Biden’s still-slim margin over Trump to 4,235 votes — 0.08 percentage points.
The Democrat pulled ahead with a slim lead early Friday morning, when Clayton County completed the count of its absentee ballots.
Kemp says allegations of fraud are taken seriously
Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan, and House Speaker David Ralston issued a joint statement regarding the election:
“Free and fair elections are the foundation of our American government. Any allegations of intentional fraud or violations of election law must be taken seriously and investigated. We trust that our Secretary of State will ensure that the law is followed as written and that Georgia’s election result includes all legally-cast ballots — and only legally-cast ballots. We will continue to follow this situation to ensure a fair and transparent process.”
Bourdeaux wins 7th Congressional District race
The second time’s the charm for Carolyn Bourdeaux.
The Suwanee Democrat has won Georgia’s 7th Congressional District.
This was Bourdeaux’s second run for the seat. Her first, in 2018, was the closest congressional race in the country that year. She lost to incumbent U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall by only 433 votes.
As of Friday afternoon, Bourdeaux was leading Republican opponent Rich McCormick by more than 8,600 votes, a margin of 2.3 percentage points in a district that spans most of Gwinnett County and southern Forsyth County.
Ossoff says he’s prepared for runoff with Perdue
Democrat Jon Ossoff is prepared for a runoff against incumbent U.S. Sen. David Perdue, even if the matchup hasn’t officially been declared. Current vote tallies from Georgia show Perdue below the 50% threshold needed to win re-elect outright, but counting is still underway.
Ossoff discussed the likely campaign ahead during an event at Atlanta’s Grant Park on Monday morning where he was flanked by about 100 supporters. He made it clear he will continue to hammer Perdue, President Donald Trump and Republicans over their response to the coronavirus pandemic, healthcare and other social issues through the type of sharp attack that led to viral moments during the general election.
“Sen. Perdue cannot defend the indefensible,” Ossoff said. “He cannot defend attacking our health care in the midst of a pandemic; he cannot defend misleading us so profoundly about a threat to our health and prosperity that has taken such a human tragedy. He cannot defend being such a weak enabler of this president who doesn’t deserve his loyalty or our support.”
Although Ossoff, aided by Libertarian Shane Hazel, appears to have prevented Perdue from reaching the majority vote needed to win outright, Ossoff also received fewer votes overall than presidential candidate Joe Biden. Ossoff said he is focused on the positive: a runoff gives him another chance to win against the incumbent.
“The bottom line is, it’s clear a majority of Georgia voters have rejected Donald Trump and have rejected Sen. Perdue’s bid for re-election,” he said.
Ossoff said his campaign has momentum and he is confident that he will defeat Perdue, despite Georgia Democrats' difficulty winning runoffs in the past.
“We aren’t talking about 15 years ago,” he said. “This is a different state. Georgia has become younger and more diverse every day of the last decade. And the effort that has gone into registering voters, empowering voters is unprecedented, unmatched anywhere in the country.”
Gwinnett’s final Friday tabulations could swing elections
Still outstanding, the county has about 4,400 absentee ballots that were received on Election Day, 463 ballots cast during early voting on a voter card that became corrupted, and an undetermined number of yet-to-be counted absentee ballots from Thursday’s adjudication process.
The county’s process of adjudicating ballots — determining what voters intended on ballots that were flagged for errors — ended at 10 p.m. Thursday, some 13 hours after it began. County elections officials have said they expect counting the final votes could last into the weekend.
Biden’s lead grows to 1,100
Former Vice President Joe Biden is slowly growing his lead over President Donald Trump in Georgia, where he currently has a 1,097 vote-edge.
As of 8:15 this morning, there are approximately 8,197 outstanding absentee ballots, according to the Secretary of State’s office. More than half of those are in Gwinnett County.
An additional trove of roughly 8,900 military and overseas absentee ballots is also pending. While Georgia’s deadline for domestic absentee ballots is 7 p.m. on Election Day, overseas absentee ballots will be counted if they’re postmarked by Tuesday and received at county election offices by Friday.
Latest vote count puts Biden on top in presidential race
Former Vice President Joe Biden opened up a narrow lead over President Donald Trump in Georgia early Friday morning as absentee ballots continued to be counted.
Biden led by 917 votes after Clayton County counted more absentee ballots. Biden won 87% of ballots tabulated between late Thursday night and Friday morning in Clayton, located south of Atlanta.
Biden chipped away at Trump’s lead since Election Day as more absentee ballots were counted. Biden trailed by 118,000 votes on Wednesday morning but steadily gained ground as over 237,000 absentee ballots, many of them from Democratic-leaning counties, were counted since then.
The race to win Georgia — and the presidency — isn’t over.
Thousands more absentee ballots will continue to be counted Friday, including 4,800 in Gwinnett County. In all, about 10,000 absentee ballots remained to be tallied, in addition to a few thousand military, overseas and provisional ballots.
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has emphasized that every legal ballot must be counted. County election offices have until a Nov. 13 deadline to certify their results.
Trump’s lead shrinks to 665
Absentee ballots continued to be counted in the early morning hours in Clayton County, reducing President Donald Trump’s lead in Georgia to just 665 votes over Joe Biden.
Clayton’s absentee voters overwhelming favored Biden by a wide margin.
Election officials in Clayton County, located south of Atlanta, said they would work through the night until all ballots are counted.
Most outstanding ballots in metro Atlanta
Roughly 80% of the 14,097 outstanding absentee ballots are in metro Atlanta counties, according to the most recent update from the Secretary of State’s office.
Here’s where the outstanding ballots were as of 10:35 this evening, per the Secretary of State:
▪ Clayton County: 4,355
▪ Cobb County: 700
▪ Floyd County: 444
▪ Forsyth County: 1,545
▪ Gwinnett County: 4,800
▪ Laurens County: 1,797
▪ Taylor County: 456
We’re expecting to see new returns from Clayton around midnight.
Biden gains ground on Trump
President Trump now leads by 1,797 votes, according to the Secretary of State’s office.
Trump’s lead narrows to 2,497
Less than 2,500 votes now separate President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden in Georgia after the state reported a new batch of results.
Roughly 16,100 ballots are still outstanding, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said, as well as thousands of military, overseas and provisional ballots.
“Officials in numerous counties are continuing to count ballots, with strong security protocols in place to protect the integrity of our election,” Raffensperger said. “It’s important to act quickly, but it’s more important to get it right.”
While Trump is still the top vote-getter, he and Biden are tied percentage-wise, each at 49.4 percent of the state’s vote.
Collins, Trump Jr. echo false claims of election tampering
As President Donald Trump’s reelection chances dimmed, his son and other Republicans held a rally in Buckhead repeating his lies claiming Democrats tried to steal the election.
“The times in which you only take the votes you want is over,” said U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, an unsuccessful Senate candidate who made baseless accusations that Democrats were tampering with the results.
A few dozen Republicans attended the hastily-called rally in the parking lot outside the Georgia GOP headquarters. Among the elected officials was state Sen. Brandon Beach and Democratic state Rep. Vernon Jones, who spoke at the start of the rally and then grabbed the microphone at the end to soak up the spotlight.
The headliner was Donald Trump Jr., who pointed toward the Jan. 5 Senate runoffs in Georgia.
“Guess what? You’re going to have another election here in about two months that could decide the fate of the U.S. Senate,” Trump Jr. told the crowd.
Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com
Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com
Secretary of state’s office touts election security measures
As President Donald Trump wrapped up an inaccuracy-laden speech this evening that questioned the integrity of the voting system in Georgia, Brad Raffensperger, the Republican secretary of state, issued a press release touting the Georgia’s election security measures.
Raffensperger’s office did not directly address Trump’s claims but outlined actions it took to “secure the vote and increase public confidence in the electoral process:”
▪ Absentee drop boxes were locked at 7 p.m. Tuesday evening, preventing illegal voting or potential fraud.
▪ Surveillance cameras monitored drop boxes at all times.
▪ State monitor is in the room with Fulton County for all counts and the public is welcome to observe any county as an added layer of transparency.
▪ A pre-certification audit will provide additional confidence that the votes were accurately counted.
“We're well aware that with a close presidential election and the possibility of runoffs in some elections that the eyes of the state and the nation are upon Georgia at this time," Raffensperger said. “We're as anxious as anyone to see the final results and to start work on certification and planning for our runoff elections. As the work goes on, I want to assure Georgia voters that every legal vote was cast and accurately counted."
Trump’s claims about Georgia lacked facts, context
President Donald Trump made a number of unsubstantiated claims about the integrity of elections in Georgia and Fulton County during a White House speech Thursday night.
As counties tally mail-in ballots, the race between Trump and his opponent former Vice President Joe Biden for the state’s 16 electoral votes is a toss up. Yet Trump said he “won” Georgia on Tuesday night, even though ballots continue to be counted.
“In Georgia, I won by a lot, a lot, with a lead of getting close to 300,000 votes on election night,” the president said. “(It) got whittled down, and it’s getting to be to a point where I’ll go from winning by a lot to perhaps being down by a little bit.”
Trump mentioned the water pipe bursting in a room with ballots in State Farm Arena. The Hawks arena has been home to Fulton’s absentee-by-mail ballot counting operations.
Trump also incorrectly said that “the elections apparatus in Georgia is run by Democrats.” Although some areas where ballots are still being counted are in Democratic strongholds, the state’s top election official, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, is a Republican and a supporter of Trump.
When asked in a press conference Wednesday about Trump’s comments about voting fraud, Raffensperger didn’t directly address Trump’s claims but reiterated his commitment to administering an accurate election.
“Ever legal ballot will be counted in Georgia because that’s our process. We follow state law,” Raffensperger said. “Your vote counts.”
In a more cryptic comment, Trump said Republican election observers in Georgia were denied access to the process “in critical places.” He was not specific and made similar suggestions about other states.
More ballots arriving from overseas and provisional voters
Thousands of military, overseas and provisional ballots will soon be added to Georgia’s vote count, another trove of votes besides those already accounted for.
There were 8,899 absentee ballots from military and overseas voters that hadn’t yet been returned to election offices in Georgia as of Thursday morning, according to the secretary of state’s office.
Military and overseas ballots have a later deadline than other absentee ballots, according to federal law.
While Georgia’s deadline for domestic absentee ballots is 7 p.m. on Election Day, overseas absentee ballots will be counted if they’re postmarked by Tuesday and received at county election offices by Friday.
Scene calms outside of State Farm Arena
By 7 p.m. only a few protesters remained outside State Farm Arena, where Trump supporters had gathered hours earlier to decry the counting of ballots and were greeted by counter protesters. A couple dozen people milled about, talking calmly about the presidential race.
Sam Cramer, 28, of Atlanta had come to the arena to counter the message of the Trump protesters after seeing a live feed of the demonstration online.
“It looked like there were a lot more espousing support for Donald Trump than on the other side of the street. Showing up counts,” she said.
For Cramer, showing up meant taking a stand against misinformation and baseless theories of corruption spread by some of the president’s supporters.
“I think it’s an effort to spread fear. They were saying it before the election even started,” Cramer said. “I think it’s all a tactic to delegitimize our system.”
Michelle Tingle, 46, of Conyers had a simple message written on her poster board: “Count every vote.”
“We are the people, we get to chose how our government should be run,” Tingle, who works with nonprofits pushing social justice, said as the crowd was thinning.
She said she was troubled by the anger and division of the current political moment. Things feel bad enough that she fondly recalled the start of the COVID-19 pandemic when many Americans seemed to come together.
“Why can’t it be like that all the time,” she said. “Now it just changed.”
Earlier in the night, a fellow counter protester had been accosted.
“A Trump supporter called her the ‘n word’ and told her to go back home,” Tingle said.
Savannah results trim Trump’s lead to 3,635
President Donald Trump’s lead over Joe Biden fell to 3,635 votes in Georgia after Chatham County reported absentee ballot results.
This is the closest the race has been yet as ballots continue to be counted across the state.
The presidential campaign tightened when Chatham County, which includes the city of Savannah, reported about 17,000 more absentee ballots Thursday evening.
There are roughly 20,000 votes left to be counted across Georgia, and they’re expected to continue coming in Thursday night.
The largest remaining numbers of absentee ballots are from Clayton, Gwinnett and Forsyth counties in metro Atlanta.
Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com
Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com
Gap between Trump and Biden shrinks to under 10,000 votes
Just 9,525 votes separated President Donald Trump from Joe Biden in Georgia as the race drew to its closest margin yet.
The race tightened after Fulton County finished counting almost all of its remaining absentee ballots, a batch of over 4,000 votes that favored Biden.
With an estimated 39,000 votes still to be counted, Biden would have to win 63% of the outstanding votes to take the lead.
Election officials say they plan to finish counting most outstanding absentee ballots Thursday night.
The latest vote totals also increased the likelihood that Republican U.S. Sen. David Perdue would be forced into a runoff against Democrat Jon Ossoff. Perdue’s lead fell to under 50% of all votes cast in that race, short of the majority needed to win outright.
Gwinnett making progress in the ballot count
Gwinnett County is almost a third of the way through reviewing thousands of ballots that have been flagged for potential errors, moving at a pace faster than anticipated.
Once complete, the final cache of Gwinnett ballots could help decide close races up and down the ballot, from Georgia’s presidential vote to Gwinnett’s transit referendum.
An undetermined number of votes from 3,200 “batches” of absentee ballots, 4,400 absentee ballots received on Election Day and 463 votes from a corrupted voter card used during early voting have not yet been reported to the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office. The ballots that must be adjudicated and the remaining absentee and early votes will not be reported until the process is complete in order to avoid “voter confusion” that could come with fluctuating numbers, Elections Supervisor Kristi Royston said.
Trump supporters gather in downtown Atlanta
As the counting of ballots continued inside State Farm Arena, about 100 pro-Trump protesters gathered outside, many convinced they already know the result.
“Trump won. I have no doubt,” said Lauren Youngo, of DeKalb County.
As she spoke the president’s lead had narrowed to under 15,000 votes, but Youngo said she doesn’t trust the process.
Elections officials say all the ballots are legitimate and are determined to count every one legally cast. Representatives from the Republican and Democratic parties are observing the process. But the president’s most fervent supporters remain unconvinced.
More than one protester mentioned the broken water pipe Tuesday at State Farm Arena that delayed the counting of absentee ballots.
“How convenient,” said Larry Mayo, of Brookhaven.
Mayo said it’s clear to him the election is rigged.
“They’re cheating,” Mayo said. “2016 is going to stand as our last free and fair election.”
By around 3:30 p.m., the crowd had dwindled to approximately 20 people.
Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@
Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@
Fulton says all mail-in absentee ballots processed
Fulton County officials say election workers have completed processing absentee-by-mail ballots.
Fulton elections head Richard Barron said that 145,748 absentee-by-mail ballots have been processed.
Of that, he said, results of 138,000 have been posted online and 1,200 more absentees that required more signature verification will come later today — meaning there’s a difference of roughly 7,000 between what’s been processed and what’s been posted.
There are still 3,600 provisional ballots and an undetermined amount of military overseas ballots left to be finalized. The deadline for those is 5 p.m. Friday.
50,000 ballots remain in Georgia
Approximately 50,000 absentee ballots remained to be counted in Georgia, most of which will be tallied Thursday, the secretary of state’s office.
The largest number of outstanding ballots were in Fulton and Chatham counties, in the Atlanta and Savannah areas. Both counties plan to complete their counts Thursday.
These pending absentee ballots could change the race.
President Donald Trump’s lead over Joe Biden shrunk to less than 15,000 votes Thursday morning.
“It takes time” for counties to process so many absentee ballots, said Gabriel Sterling, the state’s voting system manager. “Fast is great, and we appreciate fast. We more appreciate accuracy.”
Sterling said he’s confident local election officials will ensure that all legitimate ballots are counted fairly.
“These people are not involved in voter fraud. These people are not involved in voter suppression,” Sterling said.
State law and a recent court ruling required absentee ballots to be received by county election officials before 7 p.m. on Election Day.
Besides Fulton and Chatham counties, thousands of absentee ballots were also pending in Clayton, Gwinnett, Forsyth, Harris, Bryan, Laurens, Cobb, Floyd, Burke and Taylor counties.
Trump lawsuit over ballots dismissed
The Trump campaign and the Georgia GOP’s challenge to vote counting in Savannah was rejected on Thursday by a Chatham County Superior Court judge.
The campaign had filed a petition that raised questions about whether Chatham County election officials were following Georgia law to ensure no late-arriving absentee ballots were counted. State law requires any ballot that arrives after 7 p.m. on Election Day to be invalidated.
A pair of Republican election watchers who had raised concerns on Wednesday about the process testified in the video-conferenced hearing. They both testified about concerns about the process they observed involving a stack of 53 ballots, but offered no evidence that the ballots had come in after the deadline.
— Please return to AJC.com for live updates.