SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Counties have been given the green light to start a recount of Georgia’s presidential race as early as Tuesday morning.
President Donald Trump’s campaign requested the recount on Saturday, a day after Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp, both Republicans, certified results showing Democrat Joe Biden won in Georgia.
Out of about 5 million votes cast, the results showed Biden beat Trump by 12,670 votes, which is within the 0.5% or less margin allowing a losing candidate to request a recount.
Gabriel Sterling, Georgia’s voting implementation manager, says the counties have been briefed on proper procedures to start the recount Tuesday at 9 a.m., wrapping up by midnight Wednesday. He said the Thanksgiving holiday and some special elections in Georgia on Dec. 1 contributed to the timeline decision.
County election workers will be doing the “heavy lifting,” Sterling said, though rather than a hand count, which was required in the state’s audit of the presidential race, the recount will be tallied by machines.
The Chatham County Board of Elections says they’ll begin preparing for the recount Tuesday at noon, and will officially start the process at 8 a.m. on Wednesday at the Elections Annex. Election workers will take a break for Thanksgiving and resume at 8 a.m. on Monday.
“In previous years we’d probably say, ‘Wow we can’t do all that,'” said Tom Mahoney, chairman of Chatham County’s Board of Elections. “Well, we’ve proved that wrong we have done it.”
“We did a hand recount in a lot fewer days than I thought we could, and so the staff is just amazing,” he added.
The recount cost will fall on the shoulders of the taxpayers in Georgia, but Sterling said the state is looking into federal cost-sharing under the Help America Vote Act.
Mahoney says early estimates predict the hand audit cost taxpayers $60,000.
A minimum of two monitors per party, per location, are allowed to observe the process, plus one monitor per party, per scanner, if more than two central scanners are being used.
Sterling said the likelihood of seeing different results after the recount is low.
Sterling took time during a virtual call with reporters on Monday to address some concerns of the public and politicians, including the validity of certain voting systems.
“We did a count — it nearly exactly lined up with what we saw, and the audit proved the machines did a job properly of counting those ballots,” the manager said, referring to a state audit meant to confirm the voting machines’ tabulation after Georgia used a paper ballot system for the first time in many years.
As for concerns about signature matching on absentee ballots, Sterling said the secretary of state has received generalized grievances, not specific evidence that would prompt a recount. Kemp was among the political voices to call for an audit of the signatures on the ballot envelopes — something Sterling said would likely not occur unless a court requested it.
He added that both parties knew about the signature matching process, and the public had the right to observe.
“If somebody comes to us with specific evidence, we investigate that,” Sterling said.
“Making a conscious decision not to review that on the front end, and then saying afterward that you have questions, doesn’t sit too well with us,” he added.