With fewer than 1,600 votes separating the presidential candidates in Georgia, state elections officials are preparing for a recount.
“With a margin that small, there will be a recount in Georgia,” said Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger during a Friday morning press conference. “Interest in our election obviously goes far beyond Georgia’s borders. The final tally in Georgia, at this point, has huge implications for the entire country. The stakes are high, and emotions are high on all sides.”
As Raffensperger spoke, the number of absentee ballots to be counted in Georgia was around 4,100, the majority in Gwinnett County. Early Friday morning, the counting of votes in Clayton County pushed former Vice President Joe Biden past President Donald Trump into the lead in Georgia.
“The focus for our office and for the county election officials, for now, remains on making sure every legal vote is counted and recorded accurately,” Raffensperger said.
Candidates can request a recount in Georgia if the race is decided by a half-percent or less. Gabe Sterling, with the Secretary of State’s Office, says they’ll seek to move up the schedule Nov. 20 certification date in an effort to get the recount underway.
Sterling said for the recount process counties will hand count a deck of ballots, which will then be sent through high-speed scanners located at the central county elections office as a test.
“Once we validate that that scanner is scanning properly, we will then be scanning every single ballot again on the central scanner,” Sterling said. He didn’t have a time estimate on how long a recount would take.
Nearly 5 million votes have been tallied in this election, the highest number in the state’s history.
The Associated Press has not declared a winner in Georgia because the race between the Republican president and the Democratic nominee remains too early to call. As well as Biden’s current lead in Georgia, he’s also ahead in the electoral college with 264 votes to Trump’s 214, according to the Associated Press.
As well as the absentee ballots to be counted in Georgia, 8,900 unreturned ballots sent to military and overseas voters could be counted if received by 5 p.m. Friday. Counties also have provisional ballots to review and possibly add to their totals, along with absentee ballots that need to be “cured” by voters by day’s end.
There are still “an unknowable amount of ballots” that could be counted, said Sterling. He said counties have been working diligently to finish tabulating their results, and he emphasized his confidence in the legitimacy of the process. Any evidence-backed complaint will be investigated, he added.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.