US votes recount: Georgia counties prepare for tally of presidential race

US election 2020

As Georgia counties prepare for a hand tally of the presidential race, the state's top elections official planned to quarantine after his wife tested positive for the coronavirus, his office said Thursday.

The count stems from an audit required by a new state law, not because there are any questions about the integrity of the election in Georgia or the results.

Democrat Joe Biden leads Republican President Donald Trump by 14,000 votes. There are no examples of similar recounts that have overturned leads of that magnitude.

The point of the audit is to show the machines counted the ballots fairly, said Gabriel Sterling, who oversaw the implementation of the state's new voting system for the secretary of state's office.

County election officials must begin the hand tally by 9 am Friday and complete it by 11:59 pm Wednesday, state officials said.

The state certification deadline is November 20.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger's wife, Tricia, tested positive on Thursday, the deputy secretary of state, Jordan Fuchs, told The Associated Press.

Brad Raffensperger tested negative but planned to self-quarantine as a precaution, Fuchs said, adding that the secretary's quarantine will not affect the audit.

Raffensperger has been under fire from fellow Republicans.

US Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler on Monday called for his resignation, claiming he ran the election poorly but citing no specific incidents of wrongdoing.

Both senators face January 5 runoffs that will determine which party controls the Senate.

Raffensperger said he would not step down and defended his office's handling of the election.

US Rep Doug Collins, who's leading Trump's recount team in Georgia, and state Republican Party Chairman David Shafer on Tuesday sent a letter to Raffensperger requesting that he order a hand recount of Georgia's nearly 5 million ballots before certifying the results, among other demands.

That has led to criticism accusing Raffensperger of caving to Trump.

An audit of one race is required by law but it's up to the secretary of state to choose the race. Sterling emphatically denied that the selection of the presidential race and subsequent decision to do a full hand count was the result of pressure from the president.

Even before the Trump campaign was talking about the possibility of a recount or recanvassing, we knew that there was a specific purpose for an audit in the law. That specific purpose was to instill confidence in the outcome of that election, Sterling said at a news conference Thursday.

The audit is a new requirement that was included in a 2019 law that also provided guidelines that the state used to purchase a new election system from Dominion Voting Systems for more than USD 100 million.

Doing a hand count of the nearly 5 million votes cast in Georgia during the November 3 election is a massive task.

It's a tremendously bold undertaking, to hand count every ballot cast in a presidential contest, on basically an entirely new voting system, in the middle of a pandemic. It's not a small enterprise, said Mark Lindeman, the interim co-director of Verified Voting, a nonpartisan group that tracks voting technology and is providing technical support for Georgia's audit.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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