Bulloch County is scheduled to begin doing its part in Georgia’s state-ordered hand recount of votes in the presidential race at 9 a.m. Friday.
In a move that exceeds a State Elections Board rule requiring an “audit” that would recount only a sample of ballots, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Wednesday ordered a total hand recount to be done involving all of Georgia’s 159 counties.
It’s yet another first-time task for Georgia’s local election workers in 2020, Bulloch County Election Supervisor Pat Lanier Jones noted when asked about the process.
“As you know, this was our first year with the new equipment and this is our first time in doing this,” she said.
Before taking part in a one-hour, state-provided training session Thursday morning, Jones had no idea of the procedure, she said in an email.
But she has six poll workers, who work with her regularly on other election tasks, scheduled to do the sorting and recounting. They are expected to look at each of the county’s ballot printouts from the new multi-device touchscreen voting system, plus all of the paper absentee ballots. That’s more than 30,000 pieces of paper in Bulloch County alone.
But the recount is of presidential votes only, not of down-ballot contests and questions.
Jones had no prediction on how many days the recount will take but noted that the deadline is midnight Wednesday. The deadline for Raffensperger to certify statewide results is next Friday, Nov. 20.
In addition to poll workers who will count votes, the local elections office is also expected to have its Vote Review Panel on hand, Jones said. The panel, which determines a voter’s intent when uncertainty arises, consists of people chosen by the county Democratic and Republican party committees and by the Board of Elections and Registration staff.
Statewide, as of 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Georgia’s original vote tally stood at 2,471,917 for former Vice President Joseph R. Biden and 2,457,846 for current President Donald J. Trump, or 49.52% to 49.24%. That was a difference of 14,071 votes, or a margin of less than 1/3 of 1% in Biden’s favor, out of 4,991,820 votes counted in Georgia in the presidential race.
Libertarian candidate Jo Jorgensen had received 62,057 votes, or 1.24%.
If Biden’s slim margin in Georgia holds or improves, he will receive all 16 of the state’s electoral votes. But he is already considered the president-elect because of his wins in other states ensuring him more than the 270 total Electoral College votes needed.
In Bulloch County, Trump was the choice of 18,386 voters, or 61.12%, to 11,243 voters for Biden or 37.37%, in results Jones certified last Friday evening, Nov. 6.
About 130 of Georgia’s counties were mapped on the Secretary of State’s Office election website as having certified election results as of Thursday. But now, all counties’ results are subject to the recount
A difficult season
Jones said she is very thankful for her office staff and the poll workers for their dedication and to others in the community for their support during a challenging election season and a difficult time for her personally.
“I don’t think I would have made it these last few weeks without their support, love and prayers,” she said. “My momma was my biggest supporter when things at work were rough, and I lost her in April 2019.… Bonnie had taken her place.”
Bonnie Lanier Rushing, who was killed by a stranger at her home in the Leefield community on Oct. 23, was Jones’ sister. Their mother, Geraldine “Gerri” Fordham Lanier, was 80 when she passed way in April of last year.
Jones took leave through the week after her sister’s death but returned to work Nov. 2, the day before Election Day.