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Hand recount underway in Troup, runoff elections combined

The Troup County Elections office began its hand recount of ballots in the presidential race Friday morning.

Troup has 30,049 ballots to recount by hand after Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger ordered the state’s 159 counties to recount all 5 million ballots cast.

The recount is technically an audit that was required in a 2019 state law that implemented the state’s new voting system.

The audit, Raffensperger said, is intended to strengthen trust in the process. Some Georgia Republicans had criticized Raffensperger’s handling of the election, including Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, who went so far as to call for his resignation despite the lack of evidence that there was widespread fraud or problems.

Raffensperger has said he does not expect the recount to change the outcome of the presidential race in Georgia, where president-elect Joe Biden leads by about 14,000 votes with 49.52 percent of the vote. The Associated Press, the New York Times and several TV news networks called the race in Georgia for Biden on Friday afternoon.

In addition to the recount, Raffensperger announced he would be combining the Dec. 1 Public Service Commission runoff with the January Senate runoffs. All three races will be decided on Jan. 5. The deadline to register to vote in that election is Dec. 7.

The counties must complete recounting by midnight on Wednesday.

At the Troup County Board of Commissioners meeting Thursday night, Elections and Registration Supervisor Andrew Harper said the recount will require extra staff.

“It’s going to take manpower, and we’re working on getting scheduled for that,” he said.

Elections staff will work on Saturday and possibly Sunday, he added.

The recount is occurring at the Troup County Government Center. There are areas for monitors, the public and media to observe the process.

Teams of two will count batches of ballots and then verify that they came up with the same tallies, which are manually recorded.

Commissioner Morris Jones asked if it would be an extra cost to the county. Harper said yes, and also said they did not have money in their budget to carry it out.

Harper did say, however, that on a statewide call with elections officials, the secretary of state’s office said they would try to secure some funds for county governments.

“Andy, I’d just like to say again, how much smoother than last time it went,” Commissioner Ellis Cadenhead said. “And it was really much better than the [June] primary, and I compliment you and your staff for what you’ve done.”

Asked in an interview how long he expected the recount to take, Harper simply said the county “will meet its deadline, one way or another.”

State law did not require a hand recount, but Raffensperger opted to go with that over the less laborious ballot scanners. The hand recount is expected to take longer.

“It would take days to scan. So, it’s going to take days to count by hand,” Harper said.

Harper said he would hope the recount would produce the same numbers, but acknowledged that it introduces an element of human error.

“It does, and that’s why we’re going to tell them to take their time and make sure they do it properly and correctly,” Harper said.

Asked about the added stress created by the recount, Harper replied “It’s 2020 is all I can say.”