Poll workers began the task Friday of recounting by hand 10,765 votes cast Nov. 3 in Franklin County for U.S. President.
By Shane Scoggins
and Beau Evans
Capitol Beat News Service
CARNESVILLE – Poll workers began the task Friday of recounting by hand 10,765 votes cast Nov. 3 in Franklin County for U.S. President.
In an unprecedented move, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced Wednesday that a hand recount would be held statweide of the nearly 5 million ballots cast in the 2020 presidential election.
In initial counts, Democrat and former Vice President Joe Biden garnered just over 14,000 votes more than Republican President Donald Trump in the state.
Trump won Franklin County with more than 84 percent of the vote by a 9,069-1,593 vote margin.
Several state and local runoff elections including a seat on the Public Service Commission was also rescheduled from Dec. 1 to Jan. 5 for election workers to better prepare for another wave of voters, Raffensperger said.
Raffensperger formally called for the hand recount as part of a regular audit of the election results, which were poised to be done via an electronic sampling of ballots before Raffensperger revised the process under emergency powers due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
All 159 county elections boards in Georgia will have until the certification deadline of Nov. 20 to count by hand every in-person, mail-in and provisional ballot cast in last week’s election, Raffensperger said at a news conference Wednesday.
On Friday, Franklin County poll workers were split into three different groups – counters, a review board and monitors.
Ten vote counters were split into five groups of two.
Each pair had a table that were sectioned off with sheets of paper that said “Trump,” “Biden,” “Jorgensen” (for Libertarian candidate Jo Jorgensen, “Overvote” and “Blank Overvote.”
The “Overvote” category was for any absentee ballot that had been marked with two selections, while the “Blank Overvote” category were ballots on which no presidential candidate was selected.
The poll workers were then handed stacks of votes from the Nov. 3 election to separate into the different categories.
Some of the votes were absentee by mail ballots, while the rest were the paper ballots printed out during early voting or on Election Day by the state’s new electronic voting system.
The system allows voters to mark their ballots on a touch-screen computer, which then prints out a paper version of their choices that is scanned in order to cast and count the votes.
After separating a packet of ballots by preferred candidate, the votes would be counted, written down and given to Kesler.
Kesler, in turn, will enter the vote count into a state computer system and scan the form where the votes were tallied and send that to the state as well.
The review board, made up of Republicans and Democrats, was set up to look at ballots where there may be some confusion about the selection intended by the voter.
The monitors were there to watch the process.
Kesler told the workers that phones and other electronics were not allowed during the vote counting and said they needed to keep talking down to a minimum.
“This is serious,” she said.
A recount of this magnitude has not been conducted before in Georgia and follows record turnout in the Nov. 3 general election.
Raffensperger said the hand count should instill confidence in the final election results amid growing – and unproven – accusations of voter fraud.
“We understand the significance of this for not just Georgia but for every single American,” Raffensperger said. “At the end of the day, when we do a hand count, then we can answer the question of exactly what was the final margin in this race.”
Raffensperger and his staff have not discovered any evidence of substantial ballot-casting fraud yet but have pledged to investigate credible allegations that may arise.
“Anecdotes and stories don’t work,” Raffensperger said Wednesday. “We need something we can actually investigate.”