Georgia's secretary of state announces full hand recount of the 2020 presidential race

The Georgia race is so close that final results may be within the margin for a candidate to request a recount.
GEORGIA -- Georgia's secretary of state on Wednesday announced an audit of presidential election results that he said will trigger a full hand recount.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said at a news conference that his office wants the process to begin by the end of the week and he expects it to take until Nov. 20, which is the certification deadline.

President-elect Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump by about 14,000 votes out of nearly 5 million votes in the state. Nearly all ballots have been counted, though counties have until Friday to certify their results.

Once county certification is complete and before the state certifies the results, the count must be audited. It is up to Raffensperger to choose which race to audit.

The audit is a new requirement put in place by a law passed in 2019 that also provided for the new voting machines purchased last year. The state has chosen to do a risk-limiting audit, in which a random sample of ballots or receipts generated by voting machines are checked against results produced by vote-tallying equipment for accuracy.

Raffensperger chose to audit the presidential race and said the tight margin means that the audit will result in a full hand recount.

Asked if he chose the presidential race because of the Trump campaign's call for a hand recount, Raffensperger said, "No, we're doing this because it's really what makes the most sense with the national significance of this race and the closeness of this race."

For the hand recount, election officers will work with the paper ballots in batches, dividing them into piles for each candidate. Then they will run the piles through machines to count the number of ballots for each candidate. The scanners will not read the data on the ballots, simply count them.

Raffensperger said the process will have "plenty of oversight," with both parties having the opportunity to observe.

After results from the hand recount are certified, the losing campaign can then request another recount, which will be performed by scanners that would read and tally the votes, Raffensperger said.

There is no mandatory recount law in Georgia, but state law provides that option to a trailing candidate if the margin is less than 0.5 percentage points. Biden's lead stood at 0.28 percentage points as of Wednesday morning.

In addition to the audit of the presidential race, Raffensperger announced that he's consolidating runoff elections. A runoff for any state races was set to be held Dec. 1, while the runoffs for two U.S. Senate races was set for Jan. 5. Raffensperger said he's consolidating those runoffs on Jan. 5.

The one exception is the runoff for the special election to fill the remainder of U.S. Rep. John Lewis' term. That election will still be held Dec. 1. The person who wins that election will serve for about a month before Nikema Williams, who was just elected to succeed Lewis, who died in July.

GA presidential race





*Counties are colored red or blue when the % expected vote reporting reaches a set threshold. This threshold varies by state and is based on patterns of past vote reporting and expectations about how the vote will report this year.

SEE ALSO: All eyes on Stacey Abrams as Joe Biden passes Donald Trump in traditionally ruby-red Georgia
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As Joe Biden edged ahead of President Donald Trump in Georgia, mentions of Stacey Abrams lit up Twitter and trended nationally as politicians, activists and celebrities credited the Democrat for helping put Georgia into play in 2020.



MORE: What's a 'cured ballot' in the 2020 presidential election?

Trump's campaign raised its campaign fund off of the"upcoming" recount in Georgia.

"Georgia is headed for a recount, where we are confident we will find ballots improperly harvested, and where President Trump will ultimately prevail," the Trump campaign wrote in an email sent to supporters.

MORE: How vote recounts happen in battleground states

Advocates for both presidential candidates raced to find every person in Georgia who submitted a flawed ballot before time ran out Friday to fix the paperwork in a race that could be decided by the narrowest of margins.

Hours before the 5 p.m. deadline, Christin Clatterbuck and Sarah Meng joined about 20 other volunteers who planned to visit addresses in suburban Atlanta's Gwinnett County in search of voters whose ballots were initially rejected but could be fixed with a signature or an ID.

Other problem ballots were cast by people not listed on the voter rolls who will need to explain why. They must correct, or "cure," their ballots by the deadline for the votes to count.

No one knew how many flawed ballots needed to be fixed. Each of the state's 159 counties keeps its own tally.

GA Senate race


Republican U.S. Sen. David Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff will face off in a Jan. 5 runoff in Georgia for Perdue's Senate seat, one of two high-profile contests in the state that could determine which party controls the upper chamber.

Libertarian candidate Shane Hazel was able to get enough votes so that neither Perdue nor Ossoff cleared the 50% threshold needed for an outright win.

Thousands of absentee ballots and in-person votes cast early needed to be counted after Election Night passed, forcing a long and tense wait before the race could be called.

Democrat Raphael Warnock and Sen. Kelly Loeffler, the Republican appointed last year after Sen. Johnny Isakson retired, will also compete in a runoff on the same day. The twin races in Georgia are likely to settle which party controls the Senate.

Nationally, the Senate stands at 48-46, with Republicans holding the majority. But Republicans lead uncalled races in Alaska and North Carolina, so the ultimate balance is likely to come down to what happens in the Georgia runoffs.

Both sides promised unlimited funds would flow to the campaigns and onto the airwaves, and they predicted an all-star cast of campaigners for a state that in recent weeks drew visits from Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris and former President Barack Obama.

The race between Ossoff and Perdue, a close ally of Trump, has been characterized by sharp attack ads but relatively moderate political positions. Both candidates steered toward the middle, vying for a state Trump won handily four years ago, but where swaths of suburbia have shown signs of disillusionment with the president.



The Associated Press and ABC News contributed to this report.
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