County election officials gearing up for Georgia’s audit, recount
VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) - As the battle continues for Georgia’s 16 electoral votes, county election officials are bracing for a statewide audit and recount this week.
As of Tuesday night, 92 counties have certified their election results, and 67 are still counting. Their deadline is Friday, and the state must have total results certified by Nov. 20.
Lowndes County results were certified Nov. 6, according to Elections Supervisor Deb Cox.
But she says her team is still busy finalizing general election paperwork all while preparing for this week’s audit, next week’s recount and the December and January runoff elections.
Cox says the audit will begin Thursday at 9 a.m., and the total recount is tentatively scheduled for Sunday through Nov. 22.
It will mark the state’s first-ever recount with its new voting system, Dominion Software.
Cox says she does not know what to expect or how long the process might take.
“We’ve been told what to do to prepare for it, and there’s other things we have to accomplish first. But we are about there,” she said. “You want to go back and be very precise...I know the process itself involves just what it says, ‘recounting’. But the methodology for that, you know, what we do first, what we do second, what we do third, is up to the Secretary of State’s office.”
According to Gabriel Sterling with the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office, there were no widespread voting irregularities or issues to report in Georgia.
“In this state, this time, this election on Election Day was an amazing success,” he said in a press conference Monday.
But while county officials buckle down for what’s ahead, tensions between state Republican leaders are building.
Georgia’s senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler issued a joint statement Monday asking for the Secretary of State, a fellow Republican, to step down saying “the management of Georgia elections has become an embarrassment for our state".
Moments later, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger responded he would not resign, writing:
“...Both Senators and I are all unhappy with the potential outcome for our President. But I am the duly elected Secretary of State. One of my duties involves helping to run elections for all Georgia voters. I have taken that oath, and I will execute that duty and follow Georgia law...As a Republican, I am concerned about Republicans keeping the U.S. Senate...”
The statements were released just a few hours after Sterling took to the capitol on behalf of Raffensperger’s office debunking several rumors of voting issues within the state.
“What I don’t like is people out there trying to undermine the system that was put together so hard by the secretary’s office and those county election directors,” he said. “We know the system counted properly. We know the ballots that were there were counted properly and correctly. We know that. We’re gonna have an audit to prove it.”
Both Perdue and Loeffler face January-5 runoffs in two key senate races that will determine the nation’s destiny and decide control in the U.S. Congress.
Governor Brian Kemp took to Twitter claiming, “the fight to defend Georgia and protect the Senate Majority will be the most expensive in modern history”.
The first runoff features senator Kelly Loeffler and Raphael Warnock. The second runoff is between Senator David Perdue and Jon Ossoff.
Despite the presidential election not yet certified and no evidence of voting irregularities reported, Attorney General William Barr gave the green light Tuesday morning for the Department of Justice to begin pursuing “substantial allegations” across the nation, if they exist.
Late last week, local resident Leigh Touchton volunteered as an observer during Lowndes County’s ballot-counting process.
“This board of elections, in my opinion, the 20 years that I’ve lived here, has been run very well,” she told WCTV.
Michael Noll, a Lowndes resident and Valdosta State University professor, also traded his time to watch the count.
“I would actually say that this particular election was done more precisely, more carefully than any other election before,” he told WCTV.
The Thursday audit and next-week recount in Lowndes County will both take place at the Board of Elections office at 2808 N Oak St and will be open to the public. Cameras are prohibited.
All states will have until December 8 to resolve election disputes, including recounts and court contests. And members of the Electoral College will meet December 14 to finalize the outcome.
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