Georgia sets to hold by-hand recount of all votes in presidential race

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Georgian officials have disclosed plan to hold a rare, by-hand recount of the state’s 5 million votes for president.

This is a move that comes amid a close margin as other states are winding down their official counts.

President-elect Joe Biden was leading President Trump by more than 14,000 votes in Georgia as of Wednesday, or 0.3% of the vote. If Mr. Biden is declared the winner, it would be the first time a Democratic presidential candidate has carried the state since 1992.

Mr. Biden has won enough states in the Electoral College to become the president-elect, even without Georgia, according to Associated Press projections and election results.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, said that state law requires him to certify the election results by Nov. 20.

On Wednesday evening, Mr. Raffensperger said he didn’t believe the recount would change the vote tally in Georgia.

“I have faith in the accuracy of the electronic voting machines,” he said, adding, “I believe the results are accurate.”

The Republican president and his allies have said they would wait for all the votes in key states to be counted and certified before they accept the results, a process that they may try to slow with their legal challenges.

The showdown is upending a pattern of cooperation between departing and incoming administrations, hampering Mr. Biden’s transition team’s ability to conduct background checks on his prospective cabinet nominees.

Arizona has just under 46,000 ballots left to be tabulated, according to the secretary of state’s office.

Of those, just over 15,000 are ready to be counted, nearly 28,000 are provisional ballots and roughly 3,000 are waiting for signature verification.

Mr. Biden leads Mr. Trump by roughly 12,800 votes, or 0.39%, according to the Associated Press, which has called the race for Mr. Biden.

In North Carolina, Mr. Trump’s lead has remained steady at more than 73,000 votes. Tomorrow is the last day to receive absentee ballots. Friday is the day all the counting is supposed to be completed.

The top election official in Pennsylvania said on Tuesday that counties received about 10,000 ballots in the mail during the state’s extended deadline.

Those ballots, which arrived during a three-day window after Election Day, are at the center of a legal battle that Republicans hope to bring before the U.S. Supreme Court.

The case is unlikely to change the results, however, because the size of Mr. Biden’s lead over Mr. Trump in that state was more than 47,500 votes as of Wednesday.

In Georgia, Mr. Raffensperger, who backed Mr. Trump in the election, was criticized by Trump supporters who have claimed that the election was mismanaged, but offered no evidence to back up that claim.

The announced hand recount will only apply to the presidential race, not the Senate contests or other races. The runoff races, which will determine control of the U.S. Senate, will be held Jan. 5, with early voting beginning on Dec. 14.

Mr. Raffensperger’s decision to conduct a hand recount follows a request by the Trump campaign’s recount effort in Georgia that is headed by Republican Rep. Doug Collins, an ally of the president.

“This is not over,” Mr. Collins said in a call to reporters Wednesday afternoon. “Every illegal vote suppresses a legal vote. We don’t want to see that happen.”

Mr. Collins didn’t provide evidence or specifics of alleged illegal voting in Georgia during the call. On the same call, Stefan Passantino, a lawyer for the Trump campaign, said he expected the hand count would be completed in time for the Nov. 20 certification.

Paige Hill, a Biden spokesperson, said that “at the end of this hand recount process, we are confident the Election Day result will be reaffirmed: Georgians have selected Joe Biden as their next commander in chief.”

Only two states have held recounts for presidential contests in the last 20 years, and in both cases the margins only changed by less than a few thousand votes, said Richard Pildes, a New York University professor of constitutional law.

The hand count is highly unlikely to change the results, said Trey Hood, a University of Georgia political science professor and director of the school’s SPIA Survey Research Center.

“We don’t have any evidence that the state had difficulty counting the votes the first time,” he said. “There’s going to be a few differences here and there but there shouldn’t be that big of a difference.”

It couldn’t be determined how soon the county boards of election, where staff members had been working nonstop since before the election, will be able to complete reviews of each paper ballot.

Mr. Raffensperger, speaking outside the state capitol, said the by-hand recount will ensure a more accurate count, as opposed to a re-scanning of ballots through computers.

“This will help build confidence,” he said. “It will be an audit, a recount and a re-canvass all at once. It will be a heavy lift, but we will work with the counties to get this done in time for a state certification.”

“Under Georgia law, candidates can ask for a recount if the margin of victory is less than 0.5%, but those recounts under state rules are a re-scanning of ballots, not by-hand reviews of each ballot. After this count and the election is certified, a candidate could still ask for such a recount,” Mr. Raffensperger said.

Source: News Agency

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