The state of Georgia recounted, by hand, the nearly 5 million votes cast on November 3 and, unsurprisingly, came to the same conclusion: President-Elect Joe Biden got more votes than President Donald Trump and won the state’s 16 electoral votes. The Trump campaign demanded the recount of the Georgia tally and, facing enormous, often unsavory pressure from national Republicans, Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger obliged. The hand recount was part of a “risk-limiting audit” conducted by the state, which (again) determined Biden to be the winner. During the recount, Trump picked up 1,872 votes such that by the final tally Biden carried the state by 12,284 votes, down slightly from the original 14,156-vote margin. The updated vote total amounted to a 0.0099 percent variation from the original margin.
Georgia state election officials warned the public to expect some slight variation in the vote totals with a hand recount because some small percentage of votes often fail to register during the machine count for a number of reasons ranging from how it was filled in to creases in the ballot. In Gwinnett County, for instance, the hand recount added 1,642 more ballots to the state total; Trump saw only a slight net gain of 285 votes from the county’s previously rejected ballots. The vast majority of the state’s 159 counties registered results that were almost identical to the original count: 126 counties recount totals were within 10 votes of the original and 54 of those counties came back with the exact same total as the first time around.
There were, however, some errors that the recount corrected for. “The audit revealed a few significant hiccups, with four counties—Floyd, Fayette, Walton and Douglas—discovering votes that were not part of the original count. Mr. Trump carried Floyd, Fayette and Walton Counties; Mr. Biden won Douglas County,” according to the New York Times. “On Thursday, Floyd County’s Board of Elections voted unanimously to fire its chief election clerk, Robert Brady, according to Dr. Melanie Conrad, a board member. Mr. Brady was fired after officials found 2,600 ballots that were left uncounted before the county’s initial certification of votes.” No county, however, had an error rate of more than 0.73 percent. The variation in total was “well within the expected margin of human error that occurs when hand-counting ballots,” the secretary of state’s office said in a statement on Thursday evening.
The recount was predictably not enough for the Trump campaign and its GOP allies. What they really want is for the state to toss out large numbers of votes due to subjective “signature discrepancies.” It’s a technicality that has a long and ugly history in Georgia and across the south as a means of arbitrarily excluding votes in areas that have a high proportion of Black residents. “Signature check” chicanery is what South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham was pressuring Raffensperger to do in his wildly inappropriate call to the Georgia secretary of state earlier this week. Raffensperger said he will certify the result by the state deadline on Friday. The Trump campaign can still ask for yet another taxpayer-funded recount even after certification because Biden’s 0.3 percent margin of victory was within the 0.5 percent threshold for another recount.
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