The topic of discussion of a Floyd County Elections Board called meeting on Thursday will likely focus on a call from Georgia's Secretary of State for local elections clerk Robert Brady to step down after an audit found over 2,500 ballots in the presidential race weren't counted.
The board is scheduled to meet at the county administration building at noon, and will go directly into closed session to discuss personnel, according to Elections Board member Melanie Conrad.
Brady is currently in quarantine after a COVID-19 exposure, but has been in touch with county officials concerning the findings of the audit.
Elections workers in Floyd County began the process to recount of all races from early votes cast during the Nov. 3 election at the Floyd County Administration Building, Conrad said.
This morning they tabulated the number of people who filled out paperwork to vote early at the admin building and will compare that total with the amount of ballots cast. The recount of those specific ballots is expected to begin at 1:45 p.m.
Poll observers from both the local Republican and Democratic parties are at the location.
An investigator with the Secretary of State's office arrived around 11:30 a.m. to help determine what happened to throw the Presidential election count off by 2,500 ballots.
Conrad characterized the issue as a "technical issue caused by human error," she said. "The machines only do what we tell them to do."
The just over 2,500 votes aren't likely to affect any down ballot local races -- all of which had large margins. It also isn't enough votes to change state level runoff races.
On top of Tuesday's investigation, Floyd County was included in an outside voting machine audit.
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger last week ordered Huntsville, Ala. based Pro V&V, a U.S. Election Assistance Commission certified testing laboratory, to do an audit of a random sample of machines to confirm no hack or tamper:
“Pro V&V found no evidence of the machines being tampered,” Raffensperger said in a statement.
The company conducted a random sampling of Dominion Voting Systems machines and, according to Raffensperger, confirmed the assessment of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency that there are no signs of cyber attacks or election hacking.
The Georgia Secretary of State’s office is sending an investigator to Floyd County first thing Tuesday to help determine what happened to throw the Presidential election count off by 2,500 ballots.
It’s not enough to change Georgia’s results in a significant way, but officials are demanding an explanation.
“It will be corrected, but this is unacceptable,” Floyd County Commission Chair Scotty Hancock said Monday.
Hancock said elections officials are working with Dominion Voting Systems to determine where the breakdown occurred. They’re waiting for the company to find out who was logged into the computer at the time.
“It was either their rep or our rep. And when we find out who was responsible, we will take action,” he said.
Floyd County Chief Elections Clerk Robert Brady could not be reached for comment Monday night.
Reports that a memory card was not removed from a machine are disputed. Local elections officials said a replacement scanner used at the Floyd County Administration Building for early voting apparently did not tabulate some of the ballots.
Board of Elections Chairman Tom Rees said the hand count added over 2,500 more votes than were registered by computers on election night and the following morning.
According to Floyd County GOP Chairman Luke Martin, and tentatively confirmed by Rees, there were an additional 1,643 votes for Republican President Donald Trump, 865 for Democrat President-elect Joe Biden and 16 for Libertarian Jo Jorgensen.
According to the Secretary of State’s website: 27,120 Floyd County residents cast a ballot for Trump, 10,972 for Biden and 496 for Jorgensen. The newly reported ballots aren’t included in those totals.
Biden won the state by over 14,000 votes, a slim margin in a race where just under 5 million Georgians cast a ballot.
Rees said the absentee by mail votes have all checked out, as has the in-person election day voting. The difference was in early voting ballots from that particular replacement scanner at the administration building.
The replacement scanner was used after the original scanner jammed and was taken out of service. The ballots from the original scanner were successfully entered into the system and those votes were counted.
Walter Jones, a spokesman for the Georgia Secretary of State’s office, said he had not been made aware of any issues like the Floyd County issue anywhere else in the state.
“Elections veterans tell me it is not uncommon for human errors to come to light before certification or in recounts,” Jones said. “It is very rare for them to change the outcome.”
Floyd County Democratic Party representative Wendy Davis said she is concerned about what she referred to as a lack of attention to detail. She said the hand count team would be working to compare the number of applications for in-person early voting against the number of votes the audit is currently reporting.
No issues in nearby counties
There were no apparent issues in nearby counties. Gordon, Chattooga and Bartow counties each completed their hand count without any significant changes reported.
Polk County election officials were still in the process of recounting their ballots on Monday, according to county elections coordinator Brande Coggins. She said they should be done Tuesday if everything goes as planned.
While Polk County’s elections office works to complete the mandated recount, it is also preparing to mail out absentee ballot requests for the local runoff for District 2 Polk County Commissioner between Ricky Clark and Linda Liles that is scheduled for Dec. 1.
Walker County Director of Elections and Registration Danielle L. Montgomery said their count was completed Monday afternoon. Only 18 votes changed out of a total 29,496 ballots, which she chalked up to human error.
In Floyd County, the hand count began between 9:30 and 10 a.m. Friday. Workers stayed with it until 5 p.m. They resumed just after 8 a.m. Saturday and the count was completed around 4 p.m.
The community room in the Floyd County Administration building downtown was set up with eight tables, with a pair of poll workers at each table conducting the recount. Both the local Democratic and Republican parties had observers and monitors in the room throughout the recount.
The Associated Press reported that a vast majority of the state’s 159 counties had completed the physical hand tally by Monday and were working on data entry and quality control measures — making sure they’ve counted every batch of ballots and only counted each batch once — before submitting results to the secretary of state.
State election officials have said they wouldn’t release any results from the tally until the whole process is complete.
As the count unfolded around the state, it appeared to go smoothly in most places.
Fulton and DeKalb counties — two of the state’s most populous — spent Friday setting up for the tally and then workers began sorting and counting ballots Saturday. Both counties had hundreds of workers on hand and said they managed to finish counting by Sunday evening.
At peak times, Fulton County had more than 170 two-person audit teams working at the Georgia World Congress Center in downtown Atlanta to recount more than 528,000 ballots. Split into two shifts each day, about 300 workers in DeKalb County tallied the roughly 370,000 ballots cast in the Nov. 3 election.
Cobb County elections director Janine Eveler said in a video posted on the county’s Twitter feed Sunday evening that workers had gotten through about half of the county’s nearly 400,000 ballots and were on track to finish on time. Some of the ballots counted Friday would have to be recounted again because workers were sorting the ballots by hand and then running them through counting machines, rather than counting them by hand, she said.
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office has consistently said it’s likely the results will differ slightly from those previously reported by the counties but that the difference is not expected to be enough to change the outcome. The tally resulting from the audit is what will be certified, election officials have said.
The AP has not declared a winner in Georgia, where Biden leads Trump by 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.