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Georgia to conduct hand recount of presidential votes

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ATLANTA — Below is an archive of our blog from Wednesday, Nov. 11

Georgia's Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, announced Wednesday the state will conduct a full hand recount all of the state's 5 million presidential votes as a means of auditing the state's election process.

This will be done before the state certifies its results - which it is still waiting to do as counties finish certifying their individual results. 

Georgia & Atlanta Election Results

Counties face a Friday deadline to finish certifying their result, which means Georgia is likely headed for a recount starting potentially on Monday. And once that is complete and the secretary certifies the statewide result, by law the losing presidential candidate will then be able to request an official machine recount if the margin is still within a half a percent, which by all indications it will be.

If you're doing the math - yes, that means Georgia will likely have two recounts.

We'll keep you updated throughout the day on developments in the never-boring Peach State.


7:42 p.m. | Wednesday afternoon, 11Alive's Natisha Lance did a one-on-one interview with Stacey Abrams about the election. She gave her thoughts about the recount. 

"We know that the Republicans are fighting over whose fault it is that Donald trump lost Georgia," she said. "The reality is it is the will of Georgians that Joe Biden be the next president of the United States and their actions will not change that outcome," she said. You can watch more of her response tonight at 11p.m. on Up Late on 11Alive. 

6:15 p.m. | Fulton County sent 11Alive a statement about the recount that will be conducted in Georgia. They said they are putting together a team to help with the process. Read the full statement below: 

"Today Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced a statewide hand recount for the November 3 Presidential election. This recount will be conducted by all 159 counties.

Fulton County remains committed to performing every aspect of the elections process in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations.

With more than 524,000 ballots cast in the presidential race in Fulton County, the recount will involve significant resources. We are learning more about the Secretary of State’s guidelines. We have assembled a team to help us to quickly gather the necessary resources to conduct the recount accurately and efficiently. We will announce the location and timing of the recount once those details are confirmed.

While the recount is underway, Fulton County is also conducting early voting for the December 1 Special Election Runoff."

5:17 p.m. | In a series of tweets, Georgia AG Chris Carr said they are providing information to educate voters about their rights and responsibilities under the law. The thread provides information on voter registration rules and more.  You can read more about it here.

4:50 p.m. | We did get some info from Fulton County on their recount timeline, and it looks like it wouldn't begin until Friday at the earliest.

"The actual recount for Fulton County cannot begin until the county certifies its results. The Registration and Elections Board is scheduled to meet on Friday to certify," a county spokeswoman said.

4:45 p.m. | Worth recalling earlier today Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger was asked about the Trump campaign's list of four dead people whose identities were allegedly used to vote last week:

"As it relates to dead people and other forms of illegal voting, that's why we've asked for - if you know of a case of illegal voting or suspected legal voting, bring that to us. Anecdotes and stories doesn't work, we need something that we can actually investigate."

Irrespective of the recount mechanics now grinding into motion, specific allegations of fraudulent votes being cast in Georgia are not widespread.

4:25 p.m. | We know you're probably dizzy from all the different election processes going on right now - we're dizzy too - but to help you sort things out 11Alive's Michael King has put together a very handy calendar with all the key dates that will determine how things play out over the next two months: Key dates before Georgia's Jan. 5 runoff election

3:45 p.m. | We've crossed the 100-county threshold on certifications, getting up to 101. We need 58 more to be finished with at least this first part of what's shaping up to be a very long Georgia election process.

3:10 p.m. | One thing here - a hand-done audit is required by state law, but that audit requires picking one race. 

The full hand recount is only necessary because the secretary of state specifically picked the presidential race, which is too close to perform a normal risk-limiting audit, done with only a sample of ballots.

He can probably fairly say, to some extent, that going this route is the best way to dispel any complaints about election integrity going to forward, but, strictly as a legal matter, the presidential vote does not have to be the subject of the audit.

2:40 p.m. | Up to 98 counties certified. Not much activity in that department today, just up a small handful from where things stood this morning.

2:05 p.m. | Another thing that happened a little while back: Chris Harvey, the Elections Division director in the Secretary of State's Office, said they will begin the hand recount process tomorrow by getting on calls with counties and going over some of the training requirements and expectations.

He then expects counties to begin their individual hand recounts by Thursday afternoon or early Friday. 

1:45 p.m. | One other thing that bears noting: One of the justifications for a full hand recount that was offered by Sec. Raffensperger was that, with a tiny margin of 14,000 separating President Trump and Joe Biden out of a sample of 5 million votes, a typical statistical sampling process simply wouldn't work. 

Charles Stewart III, an MIT professor who's an expert on election analysis and technology, said that was basically true. That essentially, the size of the sample you'd have to draw out in this particular race to give you confidence would be so large that you might as well recount the whole thing anyway.

1:20 p.m. | If you're glued to the evolving recount process, one thing the Trump campaign noted in a press call a little while ago is that: it's not all they're seeking in Georgia.

They indicated they'd also like a full signature-matching process done on the mail-in ballots, to ensure that none were "harvested." There were more than a million such votes cast in Georgia, and it's not clear if and when that separate kind of recanvassing could be done.

You can learn a little more about ballot harvesting here:  Is ballot harvesting legal in Georgia?

12:30 p.m. | Meanwhile, we're still on 97 counties who have certified their results. Remember they have until Friday to meet that deadline. Not clear if the Secretary of State would try to begin this hand recount process piecemeal, starting with counties that have already certified, or wait for them all to be done and begin it in one go.

12:00 p.m. | Correction on an earlier note: We said the Sec. of State was moving the Dec. 1 runoffs to coincide with the Senate runoffs on Jan. 5, but he only said statewide runoffs - which would seem to mean non-statewide runoffs, such as the special election to fill John Lewis' 5th District seat for about six weeks, would still be held on Dec. 1.

11:26 a.m.| We've had a second to make sense of the details in this, so here's what's happening in Georgia: 

  • The state is conducting an audit before it certifies results. The audit is being performed as a full by-hand recount of the presidential voting.
  • Then the state will certify its results.
  • Then, by law, the losing campaign will have two business days to request the official recount, which rules regulate must be done by machines.

Republicans advocating on behalf of the president in Georgia had been pressing for a hand recount. By state Board of Election rules, an official recount - which happens after results are certified - is to be done by machine unless otherwise ordered by a court, so it appears Sec. Raffensperger has gone with a workaround to accommodate the request. 

The state is now using the audit - which was originally to be a scientific sampling of one race to see that it generally matched up with what's been reflected in state results so far - as a full recount in and of itself.

11:02 a.m. | Sec. State on doing a hand recount of all of Georgia's nearly 5 million votes: "We now have that verifiable paper ballot for the first time in 18 years. We're gonna have something to count, instead of just pressing a button and getting the same answer. So we'll be counting every single piece of paper, every single ballot, every single lawfully cast legal ballot."

10:47 a.m. | Sec. Raffensperger says the state will do an audit and recount in one go, by hand in every county.

10:40 a.m. | Sec. Raffensperger just announced the Dec. 1 runoffs will be postponed to coincide with the Jan. 5 runoffs.

10:25 a.m. | We'll be live with the Secretary of State press conference in about five minutes.

10:23 a.m. | The Trump campaign just released a list of deceased people whose identities were allegedly used to vote in the election, consisting of four names.

10:00 a.m. | The Marco Rubio rally with Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue will be happening shortly - you can watch that here.

9:45 a.m. | We'll be live on air with the Secretary of State's press conference within the hour:

9:40 a.m. | With all this focus on the electoral process, we must express countless thanks to all those who have served to preserve it today:

9:15 a.m. | For some insight on the factors that have played a role in Georgia's political shift, here's 11Alive's Why Guy Jerry Carnes:

9:10 a.m. | Another county in with certified results, bringing us up to 97.

8:25 a.m. | 11Alive's Joe Ripley with some more context on the last batch of votes that was tallied:

8:05 a.m. | We've added a few counties early today, bringing the total certifying their results to 96 out of 159, up from 92. The Secretary of State's site also now officially shows the Biden lead at 14,101 with 4,991,741 votes in the tally.

8:00 a.m. | Some stuff to be on the look out for today:

  • 10:00 a.m.: Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is holding a rally in Cobb County with Sens. Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue in support of their reelection bids
  • 10:30 a.m.: We're expecting a press conference from the Secretary of State's Office at this time
  • 1:00 p.m.: The Secretary of State will be announcing which contest will be used in the election audit (the way that works is they perform the audit on one race that appeared across statewide ballots).

7:35 a.m. | Just for clarity: The Secretary of State's site hasn't updated in about 14 hours, but we and other news orgs such as the New York Times that track the results independently are seeing Biden's lead in Georgia at just more than 14,000 right now.

7:30 a.m. | We're still waiting for a good deal of Georgia's counties to certify their results, with a Friday deadline to do so looming.

Where things stand as of Wednesday morning: 92 of 159 counties have certified their results and 4,989,046 total votes have been registered in Georgia.

6:30 a.m. | A Georgia Rep. claimed 11Alive reported a vote scanning issue would result in more votes for the president. This is false but Trump tweeted it.

Here are the facts.

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