Emil Moffatt / WABE
Amid a host of unsubstantiated allegations of fraud by President Trump and his allies in the Georgia presidential election, counties across the state have begun to hand-count nearly 5 million ballots.
Election workers taking the statewide exam have Wednesday evening to complete their count. This is the first time such an audit has been conducted in Georgia.
Janine Eveler is an election officer in Cobb County, where more than 393,000 ballots must be counted by hand. She says dozens of workers will count throughout the weekend and more people may be hired depending on progress made.
“We have to judge that. We don’t want to be in a rush because we want a very methodical process,” said Eveler. “That’s why we spent so much time explaining to people because they had never done it before.”
Joe Biden and Donald Trump are separated in Georgia by only 14,000 votes, with Biden at the top. Eveler says she’s counting on a slightly different number from the audit.
“I’m sure it will change because the people who count a hand have more reason to believe that they are going to make human error,” said Eveler. “That’s one thing machines are really good at, they count. So we’ll see what we get in the end. I don’t think it’s going to be big numbers.”
Bidens obvious victory in Georgia, the first for a Democrat since 1992, was a heavy blow to the long-dominant Georgian GOP.
Emil Moffatt / WABE
Top Republicans, including President Trump and the state’s two Republican senators, have baselessly accused Democrats of committing election fraud Georgian Foreign Minister Brad Raffensperger and local electoral officials from both parties have refused.
Cobb County began the process on Friday morning with dozens of workers scattered around tables in an exhibition hall, sorting the ballots into trash cans with the names of the presidential candidates. Recognized election observers stood nearby and looked over the shoulders of the workers as they sorted the ballot papers. A handful of members of the public stood behind a warning tape on the edge of the room.
Raffesnperger said on Wednesday that the risk-limiting audit usually only needs to hand-count a sample of the ballot papers. But because the margin is so small – 14,000 votes out of nearly five million votes cast – a full handcount was required.
“This race has national significance, national significance, we understand that, we understand that,” said Raffensperger. “At the end of the day, if we do a hand count, we can answer the question: what exactly was the last lead in this race?”
Counties will not be able to cover the cost of the statewide exam, despite the state saying Thursday it will use federal funds from the Helping America Vote Act to share the cost with the counties.
Todd Edwards of ACCG, an association representing the counties of Georgia, is honoring the state with the purchase of the majority of the new voting machines that will be used for the first time this year.
“I’m sure if there is a way for the state to raise funds, they’ll know it’s going to be a tough fiscal year for them, so we’ll just keep working, stay encouraged, and do that.” as best we can, “said Edwards.
Fulton and DeKalb counties are expected to begin actual vote counting on Saturday.
The state is expected to confirm the election by the end of next week after the review is completed.
WABE editor-in-chief Susanna Capelouto contributed to this report.