ATLANTA (NewsNation Now) — Georgia’s election officials will soon release a report on a hand tally of the presidential race that was supposed to be completed Wednesday before midnight.
Gabriel Sterling, who oversaw the implementation of the state’s new voting system, said he expected the secretary of state’s office to put out a report on the results by midday Thursday.
The state’s election officials have repeatedly said they expect it to affirm Democrat Joe Biden’s narrow lead over Republican President Donald Trump.
Going into the hand tally, Biden led Trump by a margin of about 14,000 votes. Previously uncounted ballots discovered in four counties during the hand count will reduce that margin to about 12,800, Sterling said.
Other counties found slight differences in results as they did their hand counts, and state election officials had consistently said that was to be expected.
The hand tally of about 5 million votes stems from an audit required by a new state law and wasn’t in response to any suspected problems with the state’s results or an official recount request. The law requires the audit to be done before the counties’ certified results can be certified by the state.
The state has until Friday to certify results that have been certified and submitted by the counties.
Once the state certifies the election results, the losing campaign has two business days to request a recount if the margin remains within 0.5%. That recount would be done using scanners that read and tally the votes and would be paid for by the counties, Sterling said.
A law passed last year requires the audit but leaves it up to the secretary of state to select the race to be audited. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said he chose the presidential race because of its significance and tight margin. Because of the close results, he said, a full hand recount would be needed to complete the audit.
A trove of uncounted votes were discovered in a few Georgia counties. Douglas and Fayette County each found a memory card at a precinct that hadn’t been uploaded, but they carried roughly 300 and 2,700 votes respectively. More than 2,500 ballots were discovered to not have been scanned at a precinct in Floyd County. Election officials repeatedly said the previously uncounted votes weren’t enough to flip Biden’s lead.
The Associated Press has not declared a winner in Georgia, where Biden led Trump by about 0.3 percentage points. There is no mandatory recount law in Georgia, but state law provides that option to a trailing candidate if the margin is less than 0.5 percentage points. It is AP’s practice not to call a race that is – or is likely to become – subject to a recount.