Bulloch County election workers completed their part in the state-ordered “audit” recount of presidential election results Wednesday morning, with the effect that President-Elect Joseph R. Biden picked up five votes, current President Donald J. Trump picked up one vote, and four qualified write-in candidates were credited with a total of 19 votes in Bulloch.
The six previously uncounted votes for the two major-party nominees all came from hand-marked absentee ballots, said Bulloch County Election Supervisor Patricia Lanier Jones.
In the weeks leading up to Election Day and until 7 p.m. that day, voters returned this type of ballot by mail, by in-person delivery to the election office or by depositing them in either of the county’s two drop boxes, one indoors and one outdoors. But the ballots then had to be fed through electronic scanning machines by local election workers to be counted after the polls closed at 7 p.m. Nov. 3.
“The only thing any of us can determine is that some ballots may have stuck together,” Jones wrote in an email. “I do know that our team of workers spent many hours reviewing and counting the mail-outs. At one point, we literally started over. We continued to come up with the 1 Trump and 5 Biden difference.”
When she and the poll workers involved in the recount discussed this, they noted that even with the hand counting, two ballots sometimes stuck together, causing a stack to have to be recounted a couple more times, she said.
So, Bulloch County’s revised count in the presidential race is 18,387 votes for Trump to 11,248 for Biden. The originally certified Bulloch County result had been 18,386 votes for Trump to 11,243 for Biden. The number of local votes for Libertarian nominee Jo Jorgensen remains unchanged at 455.
None of the six missed votes were from the printouts of in-person ballots from Georgia’s new touchscreen electronic voting system, Jones said in a follow-up call. Those printouts, originally fed by individual voters into scanners for electronic counting, were also hand recounted by the teams of two poll workers each, under the observation of elections staff.
A total of from six to 10 poll workers did the counting at different times Friday, Saturday, Monday and through Tuesday at the Bulloch County Annex.
19 valid write-ins
Jones also acknowledged that, with the audit recount, 19 valid Bulloch County votes were credited to state-qualified write-in candidates. Thirteen of these write-in votes went to Howie Hawkins, four to Brian Carrol, one to Gloria La Riva and one to Mark Charles.
Local election officials had to check the written-in names against a list of people who had qualified with the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office as presidential write-in candidates.
Usually most of the names that voters write in are for people who have not qualified for an office and sometimes are fictional, such as cartoon characters. That was again the case, with 65 of Bulloch County’s total 84 write-in votes for president still counted as invalid.
Also, 61 Bulloch County voters left the presidential contest blank while apparently voting on one or more other races or questions.
So, Bulloch had a total of 30,109 valid votes for president, not counting blanks and invalid write-ins. Of those valid local votes, almost 61.1% were for Trump, almost 37.4% for Biden and 1.5% for Jorgensen. The candidates’ proportional standings remain where they were to within a tenth of a percentage point.
Georgia’s State Election Board required in advance that an audit be performed of this year’s election results. A sampling of the ballots in one race would have satisfied that requirement. However, with the closeness of Georgia’s presidential results and the controversy surrounding them, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger last week ordered that a complete hand recount of that one race be done as the “audit.”
Election officials in Georgia’s 159 counties had until 11:59 p.m. Wednesday to complete their audit recounts. Raffensperger then has until the end of the day Friday to certify statewide results.
Then a candidate who trails by less than half a percentage point statewide – such as President Trump – could request a recount under a different rule.
As of 3 p.m. Wednesday, the election results website maintained by Raffensperger’s office showed 2,472,255 Georgia votes for Biden, or 49.52%, to 2,458,249 for Trump, or 49.24%, and 62,072 for Jorgensen, or 1.24%. But not all of the audit results were in, and Bulloch County’s new totals were not yet shown on the “Results by County” page.