Double-whammy for elections officials in Athens, Oconee Co

DA’s runoff, presidential recount

While they preside over the final day of early voting in a District Attorney’s runoff that is set for next Tuesday, elections officials in Athens-Clarke and Oconee counties are also joining their counterparts across the state in recounting presidential election ballots that were cast earlier this month. The DA’s runoff pits Democrat Deborah Gonzalez against non-partisan candidate James Chafin, while the presidential vote recount comes as the Trump campaign looks to verify or overturn a 12,000-vote victory for Joe Biden, who stands now as the first Democrat to carry Georgia since 1992.

From WSB Radio…

Let the counting begin — again. At the request of President Donald Trump, elections officials said a recount of Georgia’s ballots for the presidential race in November’s election will start at 9 a.m. today.

It will be the third time that the ballots have been counted in this election. There was already a hand recount as part of the Secretary of State’s Office audit of the election.

Michael Henry told WSB that he helped in that hand recount for Gwinnett County and is willing to help again for the second recount.

“If we need to, we will recount them and recount them,” Henry said.

Henry serves as the Democrat on a bipartisan voter review panel that checked for errors. But he has questions about this recount requested by the Trump campaign.

“You’ve got all of the people going down there risking their lives in the middle of this pandemic to recount everything. I just think it’s a was a huge waste of taxpayer dollars and human capital,” Henry said.

Trump is legally able to ask for a recount under Georgia law. President-elect Joe Biden beat Trump by just 0.25% in the state’s certified results — well under the 0.5% threshold that allows a recount.

The secretary of state ordered the first audit and hand recount. This one will be done by machines.

Todd Edwards, with the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia, advises Georgia counties.

“Thankfully, this will not be as labor-intensive as the audit,” Edwards said.

Counties are expected to pay for the recounts, with the chance of federal money reimbursing them.

“We’re asking counties to keep track of all their costs — both for labor, for facilities and the needed supplies, and the case there is any money made available,” Edwards said.

The Trump campaign is signaling it wants more than a machine recount. Georgia Rep. Buddy Carter tweeted on Monday that a recount should include matching and verifying signatures.

But officials already matched and separated ballots and envelopes to keep the ballot secret.

“Coming up with a generalized grievance afterwards because the person I wanted to win didn’t isn’t a reason to open an investigation,” said Gabriel Sterling with the Secretary of State’s Office.

The second recount is likely to start as early as Tuesday at 9 a.m. Counties have to be finished by next Wednesday at midnight.

Matt Bernhard, with Voting-Works, worked with the state during the audit.

“I don’t think this recount will, you know, affect very much,” Bernhard said.

He told Johnson that he believes the state got it right the first time.

“I think also provided fairly strong evidence that the Georgia elections were running correctly on election night,” Bernhard said.

Some voters, like Rachel Hundley, hope a triple check of the results will start the transition into the next election.

“Hopefully that we can all turn our attention to the very important, to Senate runoffs that are on Jan. 5,” she said.

Tim Bryant

Tim Bryant hosts Classic City Today, 6-10 weekday mornings on 98.7FM & AM 1340 WGAU in Athens.

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