Georgia will re-count all paper ballots cast in the November 3 presidential election by hand, the state’s top election official said on Wednesday, a mammoth task that will have to be completed by November 20. Democrat Joe Biden secured more than the 270 electoral college votes needed to gain the presidency on Saturday by winning Pennsylvania after four tense days of counting, delayed by a surge in mail-in ballots because of the coronavirus pandemic. Adding Georgia would only add to Biden’s margin of victory.
Republican President Donald Trump has refused to concede defeat and has said – without citing evidence – that the voting was once marred by fraud. The vote count in Georgia showed Biden ahead of Trump by just 14,101 votes out of a few 5 million across the state. With the margin so small, a recount is needed, Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger said at a news convention.
“You if truth be told have to do a full hand-by-hand recount of all because the margin is so near,” Raffensperger said. “We need to start this before the week is up.”
“People will be working a whole lot of overtime over the next coming weeks,” he said.
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Officials will work in pairs, sorting stacks of ballots into piles and counting them under the watch of observers from both political parties, Raffensperger said. The piles will include ballots cast in person and by mail, he said.
“That’s how it’s going to be right through, and you’re going to tally it all up. It’s a big process,” he said.
The scale of the endeavour is such that whether counting takes place round-the-clock, officials should count more than 23,000 ballots an hour in the nine days before the deadline for the results to be certified. A study by the non-partisan group Reasonable Vote found that out of 31 statewide recounts between 2000 and 2019, the outcome changed in only three of them. More regularly, the winner won by a tiny bit more. On average, they shifted the outcome by 0.024%, Reasonable Vote found – a much smaller margin than Trump would need. Biden currently leads Trump in Georgia by 49.5% to 49.2%.
Georgia’s two U.S. senators, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, both Republicans, on Monday called on Raffensperger, who could also be a Republican, to resign over his management of the election. They presented no evidence of fraud, on the other hand.