Floyd County wrapped up the recount of early voting ballots cast at the administration building on Wednesday, done after an audit determined workers had not tabulated 3,060 votes after replacing a malfunctioning scanner.
That number, higher than an original estimate made by elections officials, was determined by subtracting the number of ballots reported to the state in the presidential race by Floyd County from the updated total.
Neither total included write in votes for other candidates.
Updated vote totals gave President Donald Trump 29,123 votes in Floyd County and President-elect Joe Biden 12,008. Adding the new local numbers into the statewide totals cuts Biden’s lead in Georgia by 967 votes.
The audit and recount effort was essentially a nonstop process since Nov. 13 — overseen by the three members of the elections board who essentially work as volunteers. Chief Elections Clerk Robert Brady has been in quarantine after a COVID-19 exposure.
Going into the count, Biden led Trump by a margin of about 14,000 votes. Previously uncounted ballots discovered in four counties — Douglas, Fayette, Floyd and Walton — during the hand count will reduce that margin to about 12,800, said Gabriel Sterling, who oversaw the implementation of the state’s new voting system for the secretary of state’s office.
The hand recount of nearly 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 deadline for the counties to complete the audit is 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, ahead of the Friday deadline for state certification. Sterling said Wednesday afternoon that he expected the counties to meet that deadline.
The hand count is meant to ensure that the state’s new election machines accurately tabulated the votes and isn’t expected to change the overall outcome, state election officials have repeatedly said.
Once the results are certified, if the margin between the candidates remains within 0.5%, the losing campaign can request a recount. That would be done using scanners that read and tally the votes, Sterling said.
The news of uncounted ballots brought Floyd County into a national media spotlight this week.
And the county remained in that focus to a degree on Wednesday when Trump retweeted a video taken from inside the county administration building with the text “FLOYD COUNTY, GEORGIA!”
While the president did not state any specifics in his tweet other than a location, it continues a barrage of messaging attacking the integrity of the elections process in Georgia — as well as other states in which he lost to Biden.
The Floyd County Elections Board is set to meet Thursday at noon and board member Melanie Conrad said they expect to go into a closed session to discuss personnel.
A remaining question is if the board will have to recertify results. According to state law, the Secretary of State must request a county to do that and direct them to correct and recertify the returns.
Local races unchanged
Adding in the just over 3,000 uncounted ballots from early voting didn’t change the outcome of any local downballot races.
Here are the new totals for the contested races:
County Commission Post 2:
Wright Bagby (I) — 29,048
Charles Smith — 11,553
County Commission Post 3:
Allison Watters (I) — 29,969
Shonna Bailey — 10,530
Clerk of Superior Court:
Barbara Penson (I) — 29,487
Moriah Medina — 10,681
State House District 12 (Floyd County votes only):
Eddie Lumsden (I) — 9,681
Jonathan Gilreath-Harvey — 2,357
State Senate District 52 (Floyd County votes only):
Chuck Hufstetler (I) — 30,232
Charles DeYoung — 10,314