Updated Thursday at 6:32 p.m.
As of 5:45 p.m. Thursday, there were about 36,331 votes remaining to be counted for the closely watched Nov. 3 election.
Counties across Georgia have spent long hours processing the absentee ballots this week.
Gabe Sterling with the secretary of state’s office says they’re optimistic about counting the majority of ballots Thursday.
“I am prayerful that we can get to a resolution by the end of the day, but as by pointed by everybody, this is going to be an extremely close margin, especially in the presidential election,” said Sterling.
As of 6:30 p.m. Thursday, only 9,400 votes separated President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden.
Sterling urged patience from voters awaiting election results.
“Fast is great and we appreciate fast, we more appreciate accuracy, said Sterling. “Accuracy is going to be the bedrock upon which people will believe the outcomes of these elections be they on the winning side or on the losing side.”
Election workers in the Atlanta metro area counties of Fulton, DeKalb, Cobb and Gwinnett were scanning the remaining ballots Thursday morning. Chatham County, home to Savannah, also had a large number of ballots still being tallied. Adjudication panels will then review any that were flagged electronically. These panels, including representatives from both the Democratic and Republican parties, study each ballot for marks indicating voter intent.
No Democratic presidential candidate has won Georgia since Bill Clinton was first elected in 1992, and it’s been 22 years since a Democratic nominee for governor or U.S. Senate carried the state. But some cracks in the GOP grip on power were evident two years ago when Democrat Stacey Abrams narrowly lost the gubernatorial contest to Republican Brian Kemp and refused to concede.
Shifting demographics — with more Black, Latino and Asian American voters joined by transplants from other states — and voter registration efforts have made the state more competitive. The populous suburbs in Cobb and Gwinnett counties just north of Atlanta had already flipped for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and stayed there for Abrams in 2018.
Trump claimed in the wee hours of Wednesday morning that it was “clear that we have won Georgia.” But Biden nodded to the state’s potential swing status, saying as he spoke ahead of the president: “We’re still in the game in Georgia, although that’s not one we expected.”
With 270 electoral votes needed to win the presidency, Georgia’s 16 electoral votes would clinch it for the Democrats.