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Bartow County election officials released a report Thursday from a voluntary audit confirming the results of Georgia’s Jan. 5 Senate runoffs.
The audit found an 89-vote discrepancy from the original tally, a 0.2% difference, which Bartow election supervisor Joseph Kirk attributed to human error in the counting process.
Candidates can request a recount in Georgia if the margin of victory is less than half a percent – Sen. Jon Ossoff won his race by 1.2%, and Sen. Raphael Warnock won by 2%.
Even though the Senate races were close, neither was close enough to require a recount, but in the report, Kirk said they decided to perform the audit to discredit the “mountain of misinformation” that was spread leading up to the election.
In particular, Kirk was trying to dispel rumors that the Dominion voting machines used for the first time this election cycle were subject to hacking or malfunction.
“Rather than engage in speculation on whether or not the system changed votes after they were cast (it didn’t) or whether it was connected to the internet (it wasn’t), we choose to respond with the simple fact that we know every voter’s vote was accurately counted in Bartow County because we checked – one ballot at a time,” Kirk wrote in the report.
Party monitors were present to observe the audit, and the monitors chose which of the Senate races was going to be audited by flipping a coin.
An audit, unlike a recount, cannot change the results of an election, but it confirms that the original outcome was correct.
Bartow election workers hand counted 43,000 ballots for over nine hours last Tuesday, at a cost of $3,000 to the county. The county intends to conduct audits of all its future elections, according to the report.
Bartow will likely not be the only county to have their votes checked.
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said in December that his office will perform a statewide study of the November election with the help of the University of Georgia.