Georgia votes continue to come in, secretary of state expects recount

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ATLANTA (WSAV) – With such a slim margin in the presidential race in Georgia, the secretary of state says his office is preparing for the next steps.

“Right now, Georgia remains too close to call,” Secretary Brad Raffensperger said Friday.

Of the five million votes cast in the state, Raffensperger says just a few thousand will separate President Donald Trump and Joe Biden. As of 5:20 p.m. Friday, that number is 4,235.

“With a margin that small, there will be a recount in Georgia,” he said.

In the Peach State, a candidate can request a recount if the margin is 0.5% or less between two candidates. As of 5:20 p.m. Friday, Biden is at 49.42% and Trump is at 49.34%.

Provisional ballots along with overseas and military ballots were due at 5 p.m. Friday.

In Chatham County, there was a potential for voters to return 337 requested military overseas ballots, for voters to cure more than 155 rejected absentee ballots and for the Board of Registrars to validate 392 provisional ballots.

At 3 p.m. Friday, an election supervisor says the Board of Registrars delivered less than 150 ballots to the Board of Elections. As of 6 p.m., that number remained less than 200.

“Everyone is going to be satisfied with the results we’ve posted last night, or certainly the results that will be posted tonight, from Chatham County,” Tom Mahoney, Chatham County Board of Elections Chairman said. “So there won’t be the attention and eyes on us perhaps, but we will certainly be working very hard to certify the results.”

Gabriel Sterling, Georgia’s voting system implementation manager, said at 3 p.m., there were 8,410 potential overseas and military ballots that could be received statewide.

Sterling addressed President Donald Trump’s tweet that questioned military ballots. He explained that these votes aren’t “missing,” any ballots postmarked on Election Day by military and overseas voters that are received by 5 p.m. Friday will be tallied, legally.

Provisional ballots are given to a voter when there is an issue confirming their eligibility at a polling place. Provisional ballots are reviewed, and should there be any question of eligibility, by law, voters can provide evidence by 5 p.m. Friday to support the ballot’s validity.

Sterling said of the roughly 13,000 provisional ballots they’re looking at, about 3,600 have been accepted in Fulton County and about 3,900 accepted from those who voted out of precinct.

“We’re not seeing any widespread irregularities,” Sterling said. “When you have a narrow margin, little small things will make a difference.

“We are literally looking at a margin of less than a large high school.”

He’s explained that counties have already been provided with the technology needed for a recount.

If a recount happens in Chatham County, staff will have to manually rescan — but not process — every ballot. On Thursday night, officials estimated that more than 134,000 ballots had been cast in the election. A paper trail is saved for this very reason.

“Knowing the state’s general political situation after 2018, we provided high capacity scanners,” he said.

Raffensperger and Sterling both reiterated that their top priority at this moment is to make sure every legal vote is counted.

“I think if anybody was going to try to rig a system, they might have seen something a little less close than this,” Sterling said. “In this state, in particular, we take security very seriously. … We’re going to have a recount for president more than likely and the people will see that the outcome will stay essentially the same.”

Each county in Georgia must certify election results by next Friday, but only after completing a risk-limiting audit. The Secretary of State will certify those the following week. It is at that point when a candidate can officially request a recount.

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