Second ballot recount to begin next week
By Tia Lynn Ivey
After a tedious statewide hand-recount of nearly 5 million votes cast in the 2020 Presidential election last week, local election officials and poll workers will soon be back at it again.
Georgia counties are slated to conduct a second recount that must be completed by Dec. 2, this time by machine, despite state officials already certifying the election results–awarding Georgia’s 16 electoral votes to President-Elect Joe Biden. President Donald Trump exercised his legal right to request a second recount after certification due to the margin of victory being under half a percentage point. The cost to conduct another recount will be footed by Georgia taxpayers. The current vote count has Biden winning the Peach State by more than 12,000 votes.
In Morgan County, officials will began recounting votes on Monday, Nov. 30, rescanning more than 11,000 ballots cast in the 2020 Presidential Election.
According to Jennifer Doran, Morgan County’s elections director, officials will first conduct “logic and accuracy” testing Wednesday, Nov. 25, in which a sample of cast ballots are scanned and then counted by hand to ensure the machines are tabulating correctly. Then, the machine recount will commence Monday, Nov. 30.
“The recount process is very different than the audit process. During a recount, we will feed all the ballots through a scanner and the scanner will tabulate the results. There is no hand counting during the recount, so the number of workers involved is much smaller,” said Doran. Doran did not have an estimated cost for the upcoming recount. “This is the recount requested by President Trump due to his loss of within 0.5 percent of Joseph Biden. The last “recount” we did was actually a pre-certification audit, which will be a part of the post-election/pre-certification process after every general election.,” explained Doran.
Doran expects Morgan County’s share of votes to be completed before the deadline next Wednesday at midnight.
Meanwhile, state election officials are standing by the original election outcome, which the hand-recount reaffirmed.
“Historically, [you] very rarely see much movement in the vote totals,” said Gabriel Sherman, Georgia’s voting system manager about the outcome of recounts on Monday, Nov. 23.
The Trump campaign not only requested another recount, but requested ballot signatures be rechecked and verified as well, but state officials say this is impossible. According to the Georgia Secretary of State Office, mail ballot signatures are examined twice during the absentee review process “when a voter initially requests a ballot and on the outer envelope when the ballot is returned — but after that, the envelope is separated from the ballot to ensure secrecy of the vote.”
Sherman discounted claims of widespread voter fraud made by the Trump campaign.
“There’s no prima facie evidence that there has been an issue. And there’s no specific evidence that anybody’s brought to us that anybody has done anything wrong,” Sherman said at a Monday press conference. “It’s a bad precedent unless we can find a legal path with specific evidentiary roots to follow.”
Trump’s recount request came one day after Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Georgia Governor Brian Kemp certified the election results.
“Today, the Trump campaign filed a petition for recount in Georgia,” the campaign said in the statement announcing the petition. “We are focused on ensuring that every aspect of Georgia state law and the U.S. Constitution are followed so that every legal vote is counted.”
The Biden campaign released a statement about the second round of recounts in Georgia. Jaclyn Rothenberg, spokesperson for the Biden campaign said a recount “will simply reaffirm Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia a third time…Last week’s recount reaffirmed what we already knew: Georgia voters selected Joe Biden to be their next president. As the secretary of state said, there is no reason to believe there are widespread errors or fraud and the Trump campaign has no evidence to back up their baseless claims.”
Raffensperger, who ran for SOS in 2018 with Trump’s endorsement, defended the outcome, writing in the Washington Post that Georgia’s election system “has never been more secure or trustworthy.”
“The successful November election and the smooth hand recount have proved our critics wrong,” Raffensperger wrote.
Trump, along with Georgia Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, who are running to keep their seats in the upcoming run-off elections this January, have publicly criticized Raffensperger and Georgia’s election system.
“Georgia Secretary of State, a so-called Republican (RINO), won’t let the people checking the ballots see the signatures for fraud. Why? Without this the whole process is very unfair and close to meaningless. Everyone knows that we won the state. Where is @BrianKempGA?” tweeted Trump on Nov. 13.
Perdue and Loeffler released and a joint statement and have publicly come out in favor of the latest recount request made by the Trump campaign.
“The management of Georgia elections has become an embarrassment for our state. Georgians are outraged, and rightly so. We have been clear from the beginning: every legal vote cast should be counted. Any illegal vote must not. And there must be transparency and uniformity in the counting process,” said Perdue and Loeffler in a joint statement. “This isn’t hard. This isn’t partisan. This is American. We believe when there are failures, they need to be called out — even when it’s in your own party. There have been too many failures in Georgia elections this year and the most recent election has shined a national light on the problems. While blame certainly lies elsewhere as well, the buck ultimately stops with the Secretary of State. The mismanagement and lack of transparency from the Secretary of State is unacceptable. Honest elections are paramount to the foundation of our democracy. The Secretary of State has failed to deliver honest and transparent elections. He has failed the people of Georgia, and he should step down immediately.”
Raffensperger and other state election officials are currently being protected by police as the GBI and FBI investigate multiple violent threats made against the officials surrounding the election outcome.