Georgia recount uncovers 2,600 new votes in presidential race

by Mark Niesse | AJC
November 17, 2020

A recount in Georgia’s presidential race found more than 2,600 ballots in Floyd County that hadn’t originally been tallied, likely helping President Donald Trump reduce his 14,000-vote deficit to Joe Biden.

Trump could gain nearly 800 net votes from the discovered ballots. There were 1,643 new votes for Trump and 865 for Biden.

The problem occurred because county election officials didn’t upload votes from a memory card in an ballot scanning machine, said Gabriel Sterling, the state’s voting system manager.

He called it “an amazing blunder” and said the county’s elections director should resign.

“It’s not an equipment issue. It’s a person not executing their job properly,” Sterling said. This is the kind of situation that requires a change at the top of their management side.”

The previously uncounted votes were cast during in-person early voting at the Floyd County Administration Building, which includes the county’s elections office, said Luke Martin, chairman of the Floyd County Republican Party.

Over half of 5,000 printed-out ballots cast on an optical scanner weren’t initially recorded.

“It’s very concerning,” Martin said. “But this doesn’t appear to be a widespread issue. I’m glad the audit revealed it, and it’s important that all votes are counted.”

The uncounted ballots in Floyd County is the most significant issue found so far during Georgia’s recount. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has said that other counties’ recounted figures closely match their original numbers.

The ballots will be rescanned and tabulated before results are finalized Friday, said State Elections Director Chris Harvey.

“You want every vote counted right the first time, but that is one of the goals of the audit: to identify problems,” Harvey said. “All the votes will be uploaded, and the results will be what they are.”

Floyd County’s elections director, Chief Clerk Robert Brady, didn’t return a phone message seeking comment.

Martin said these ballots rectify a discrepancy between the number of people who checked in to vote early and ballots that were counted in Floyd County, located in northwest Georgia.

The issue appeared to occur on an optical scanner that stopped working after a couple of weeks of early voting, Martin said. County election officials were supposed to rescan all paper ballots cast on that machine, but roughly half of them weren’t recorded.

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