Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said at a news conference Wednesday that his office wants the process to begin by the end of the week and he expects it to take until Nov. 20, which is the certification deadline.
Nearly all ballots have been counted, though counties have until Friday to certify their results.
For the hand recount, election officers will work with the paper ballots in batches, dividing them into piles for each candidate.
Then they will run the piles through machines to count the number of ballots for each candidate.
The scanners will not read the data on the ballots.
After results from the hand recount are certified, the losing campaign can then request another recount, which will be performed by machine, Raffensperger said.
U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, who’s leading President Donald Trump‘s recount team in Georgia, and state Republican Party Chairman David Shafer sent a letter to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Tuesday requesting that he order a hand recount of Georgia’s nearly 5 million ballots before certifying the results.
The move comes a day after Republican U.S. Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler called for Raffensperger’s resignation, claiming he ran the election poorly. Perdue will face Democrat Jon Ossoff and Loeffler will face Democrat Raphael Warnock in Jan. 5 runoffs that are likely to determine which party controls the U.S. Senate.
Raffensperger has refused to step down and defended how his office conducted the election. His office has refuted a number of claims made by Trump supporters.
“The process of reporting results has been orderly and followed the law,” Raffensperger said in a Monday statement. “Where there have been specific allegations of illegal voting, my office has dispatched investigators.”
“This is not about anything but a fair process and election,” Collins said in an interview with the Associated Press. “This is not about sour grapes. It’s not about anything else. It’s just about saying, let’s restore the integrity, because we’ve got more elections here in Georgia in a very short time.”
The race for president in Georgia is too close to call. As of Tuesday, Biden led Trump by 12,651 votes out of nearly 5 million votes counted. Nearly all ballots have been counted, though counties have until Friday to certify their results.
Georgia law outlines several steps that must be completed before results are official.
First, Raffensperger must decide whether to conduct an audit of the race. Under Georgia law, Raffensperger must select one Georgia race to audit and provide statistical evidence on whether the vote count was accurate. The audit will include hand-counting a random sample of ballots to check for accuracy. If he chooses the race for president, the margin is so tight that an audit would effectively require a statewide hand count of every ballot cast, Raffensperger said Tuesday.
Raffensperger is expected to announce on Wednesday which race will be audited.
There is no mandatory recount law in Georgia. However, regardless of whether the presidential race is audited, Trump could likely request an optional recount. State law provides that option to a trailing candidate if the margin is less than 0.5 percentage points. Biden’s lead stood at 0.25 percentage points as of Tuesday afternoon.
Collins and Shafer also requested that election officials recanvass the results for Perdue’s Senate seat and a state Public Service Commission seat held by Lauren “Bubba” McDonald. The AP called a runoff in Perdue’s race and hasn’t made a call yet in McDonald’s race, where the Republican leads but is short of reaching a majority of votes, as required by Georgia law.
Additionally, Collins and Shafer asked Raffensperger to verify the validity of signatures on 1.4 million mailed-in ballots and confirm the ballots include the proper notations, check in-person and mail-in ballots to make sure no one cast one of each, check that no one who’s not eligible was able to vote and trace the ballots’ chain of custody to confirm that they were legally cast.
Trump’s campaign has complained that their poll watchers were unable to scrutinize the voting process, including in Georgia’s Fulton County (Atlanta).
Adapted from reporting by Associated Press.