Georgia to recount US presidential votes by hand for state audit

The US state of Georgia will do a full recount of ballots by hand as part of a required audit and due to a tight margin in the US presidential race.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said on Wednesday that the process would take until November 20.

President-elect Joe Biden is currently ahead of Donald Trump in the state by some 14,000 votes.

“It will be a heavy lift, but we will work with the counties to get this done in time for our state certification,” Raffensperger said.

“We have all worked hard to bring fair and accurate counts to assure that the will of the voters is reflected in the final count and that every voter will have confidence in the outcome, whether their candidate won or lost.”

Raffensperger has been called on to resign by Georgia’s two Republican Senators, both heading to a January runoff election that will determine whether the party retains their Senate majority.

Raffensperger, also a Republican, has said he wouldn’t step down and assured the public there had been no widespread problems. The audit is a new requirement put in place by a law passed in 2019 that also provided for the new voting machines purchased last year.

Raffensperger chose to audit the presidential race and said the tight margin would result in a full hand recount.

Asked if he chose the presidential race because of the Trump campaign’s call for a hand recount, Raffensperger said, “No, we’re doing this because it’s really what makes the most sense with the national significance of this race and the closeness of this race.”

Officials will run piles of ballots through machines to count them for each candidate. If the vote tallies differ from what was previously recorded, it is the audit count that will be certified for the state.

Raffensperger said the process will have “plenty of oversight,” with both parties having the opportunity to observe.

Once the results from the audit are certified, the losing campaign can then request that recount, which will be done using scanners that read and tally the votes, Raffensperger said.

US Rep. Doug Collins, a Georgia Republican who’s leading Trump’s legal efforts in Georgia, called the upcoming audit a “first step.”

The issues Trump’s campaign and its allies have pointed to are typical in every election: problems with signatures, as well as the potential for a small number of ballots miscast or lost.

With Biden leading Trump by wide margins in key states, none of those issues would affect the election’s outcome.

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