No additional ballots were added to either presidential candidate’s total in Carroll County during this week’s hand recount of the votes, according to a report from the secretary of state’s office.
A statewide audit of the more than five million presidential ballots cast across Georgia finished this week, and the secretary of state’s office released the results of the review on Thursday night.
On Friday afternoon, Georgia’s governor gave an update on the election. He said that while most local elections workers did well with the recount, he could not believe that some county officials had missing ballots for weeks.
President Donald Trump carried Carroll with 68.76% of the more than 54,000 votes cast by county residents. He scored 21,238 more ballots than President-elect Joe Biden, who received 16,238 votes.
This confirms what County Communications Director Ashley Hulsey and Elections Supervisor Greg Rigby had recently told the Times-Georgian. Hulsey also told the newspaper this week the hand recount cost the county an estimated $2,000 for poll workers.
Haralson County election officials also found no change in their final tally, according to the report. Trump carried that county with 10,539 more ballots than Biden out of the 14,248 total votes cast.
However, in neighboring Douglas County, 10 additional ballots were added to Biden’s total. The former vice president carried Douglas with 17,368 more votes than Trump.
“The audit confirmed the original result of the election, namely that Joe Biden won the presidential contest in the state of Georgia,” the report said. “Like any risk-limiting audit, this audit does not confirm or correct the exact margin of victory. It only provides sufficient evidence that the correct winner was reported.”
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced on Nov. 11 a hand recount of the more than five million presidential election ballots cast across Georgia would begin late last week. He said a review was needed because the margin between Biden and Trump was approximately 14,000 votes.
Georgia’s original machine count of the presidential ballots cast across the state resulted in a margin of 0.3% between the candidates, triggering a full manual recount of the votes.
The secretary of state’s office said in its report on the recount that the highest error rate in any county was 0.73%, and most counties found no change in their final tally. Most of the remaining counties had changes of less than 10 ballots.
After releasing the results of the audit, Raffensperger then certified the presidential race results on Friday.
With his win in the state, Biden receives Georgia’s 16 electoral votes. That brings the president-elect’s total to 306 electoral votes against Trump’s 232, according to the AP. A presidential candidate needs 270 to win in the Electoral College.
“I’m a passionate conservative, and as I’ve said before, I’m a proud Trump supporter,” Raffensperger said on Friday morning at a news conference at the Capitol. “Like other Republicans, I’m disappointed our candidate didn’t win. Close elections sow distrust. People feel their side was cheated. We saw this from the Democrats in 2018, and we see this from Republicans today.”
The certification formalizes the paper-thin results after the statewide audit confirmed that Biden ended up with more than 12,000 ballots over the president.
Earlier this week, state Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan, a Republican, told Carrollton Rotary Club members he is also a Trump supporter and he also did not like the outcome of the election. But he added he would respect the election results.
On Friday afternoon, Gov. Brian Kemp provided an update on the election and said many county elections officials did well with their recount. But he said it is “unacceptable” that some counties found “thousands of uncounted ballots” weeks after a presidential election.
“I join many in backing a hand recount and a thorough investigation into any voting irregularities,” he said. “It is important to know that a vast majority of local elections workers did their job well under unprecedented circumstances, and I thank them for their service.”
He supported checking signatures on absentee ballots and comparing them to the signatures on file with the secretary of state’s office and on a voter’s registration application.
“I’ve heard from many members of the General Assembly, and I appreciate their input and share their concern,” he said. “I look forward to working with Lt. Gov. (Geoff) Duncan, Speaker (of the House David) Ralston and members of both bodies to address the issue raised over the last several weeks.”
Georgians will return to the polls on Jan. 5 to vote in three runoff races including two U.S. Senate seats and a public service commissioner. The deadline to register to vote in these elections is Dec. 7.
“Every legal vote must be counted, and the security of the ballot box must be protected,” Kemp said. “As governor, I have a solemn responsibility to follow the law and that is what I will continue to do. We must all work together to ensure citizens have confidence in future elections in our state.”
However, Kemp noted that Trump is entitled to ask for a statewide machine recount because of the narrow margin. State law says the losing campaign can request a recount if the candidates are within a 0.5% margin. The deadline to request the recount is Tuesday, two business days after the results were certified.