The hand recount of all ballots in the Georgia Presidential vote began in Rome around 9:30 a.m. Friday with 16 poll workers paired off at eight tables inside the Floyd County Administration building.

Board of Elections Chairman Tom Rees said he hoped to complete the recount by Tuesday, in advance of the midnight on Wednesday deadline.

The state did not provide much direction for counties to work with, Rees said, so they continued using their own process. Poll workers from across the county will be participating in the recount from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and through the weekend until the ballots are recounted.

The recount crew is separating the ballots into stacks for President Trump and president-elect Joe Biden, Libertarian candidate Jo Jorgenson and write-ins go into a separate pile which will be turned over to vote review panel. Rees said there were less than 22 certified write-ins.

Once the votes have been counted, they will be recounted to make sure each person at a table comes up with the same number of votes. Those numbers will then be sent to the Secretary of State’s office.

The count is being observed by representatives from both the Republican and Democratic parties.

The observers have to stand on the perimeter of the community room, separated from the recount teams by a chain.

“I can’t step across the line, I can’t touch anything, I can’t ask those people questions. All I can do is observe,” said Randy Smith, a GOP observer. He said he didn’t have any reason to believe there were any problems with the original count in Floyd County.

“More than anything else I just want to participate in the recount,” Smith said.

City Commissioner Wendy Davis was there as a local representative of the Democratic Party.

Each party was permitted to have two people designated as monitors and one person each on the vote review panel.

“We had a lot of people working on our voter protection team doing the ballot count for the general election so we started with those folks,” Davis said. “We tried to pick the people with the most flexible schedules. We have other people who want to participate but we’re still not sure if this is going over the weekend or if they’ll let us swap out other people. The rules are just not clear.”

Recounts and lawsuits

With Biden leading Trump in Georgia by the narrow margin of just more than 14,000 votes, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has ordered a hand recount of the presidential ballots, a first for the state. The recount got underway Friday morning and is due to be completed by midnight next Wednesday.

Meanwhile, a Houston-based group became the latest to sue the state over the handling of last week’s election. True the Vote filed suit Friday against Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp, demanding that the state launch an investigation to determine the number of illegal votes cast in Georgia.

“The election inconsistencies displayed in Georgia deserve a thorough investigation in order to ensure that the voting rights of legal voters in the Peach State are defended,” said Catherine Engelbrecht, True the Vote’s founder and president.

“The events surrounding Georgia’s elections are a disgraceful representation of the election system in the United States. Our litigation seeks to follow the law, to find the facts, and to discover the vulnerabilities that exist in order to do a thorough investigation of voter rolls to determine if actual illegal votes were cast and to ensure fair results of the most recent presidential election.”

The lawsuit targets eight counties: Chatham, DeKalb, Fulton, Clayton, Gwinnett, Cobb, Richmond, and Henry.

Georgia’s two U.S. senators, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, also accused the secretary of state’s office of mishandling the ballots earlier this week and demanded Raffensperger’s resignation.

The secretary of state said he would not step down and has defended Georgia’s elections process in repeated news conferences updating the public on the progress of the ballot counting.

Biden is the first Democratic presidential candidate to carry Georgia since Bill Clinton in 1992. Republicans carried the Peach State in the last six presidential contests.

Biden’s 306 electoral votes are the same number Trump piled up in winning the presidency over Democrat Hillary Clinton four years ago.

Capitol Beat News Service contributed to this report.

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