The center, which has been accredited by Georgia’s secretary of state, will deploy monitors to county audit boards across the state. The recount of the nearly 5 million votes cast in the Peach State will be open to the public.
“What we’re monitoring is what many people have been calling the hand recount. Because the margin in the presidential race is so close, this sort of audit essentially requires review of every ballot by hand,” Paige Alexander, the Carter Center’s CEO, said in a statement. “This is unusual, but it provides an opportunity to build trust in the electoral system prior to the state’s certification of results.”
Democratic nominee Joe Biden led President Donald Trump in Georgia by 0.3 percent as of Friday night. Georgia allows for a recount if the margin between the leading candidates is less than half percent.
Masked election workers in teams of two began counting ballots Friday in counties across Georgia. The hand tally stems from an audit required by a new state law.
The law requires that one race be audited to check that new election machines counted the ballots accurately. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger chose to audit the presidential race and said the tight margin meant a full hand count was necessary.
Election personnel sort absentee ballot applications for storage at the Gwinnett County Board of Voter Registrations and Elections offices in Lawrenceville, Ga., on Nov. 7, 2020. (Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)
Across the state, audit teams worked with batches of paper ballots, dividing them into piles for each candidate, before counting each pile by hand. Bipartisan panels were on hand to review certain ballots, including those where the auditors couldn’t agree on the voter’s intent and those with write-in candidates.
Monitors, appointed by local Democratic and Republican parties, were allowed to circulate among the auditing stations but could not touch ballots or record anything. News media and members of the public were also allowed to observe but were required to do so from a designated area.
The secretary of state’s office has instructed county election officials to complete the audit by 11:59 p.m. Wednesday. The deadline for the state to certify the results is Nov. 20.
The audit is part of a 2019 law that also set out guidelines for the purchase of a new $100 million election system from Dominion Voting Systems. It was up to the secretary of state to choose the race and Raffensperger said the presidential race made the most sense because of its tight margin and national significance.
At least three Georgia counties experienced software glitches on Election Day.
The state of Texas rejected the Dominion Voting Systems election machines and software on three occasions. During the most recent audit, all six of the examiners advised against the certification of the system. One of the auditors noted that “the machines could be vulnerable to a rogue operator.”