MOULTRIE – Georgia’s third counting of votes in the 2020 presidential election officially started today (Nov. 24), but Colquitt County Probate Judge Wes Lewis, the elections supervisor, said his office is waiting until Monday to begin the process that is due Wednesday, Dec. 2.

Lewis told The Moultrie Observer late Tuesday morning he made this decision based on the logistics involved with it being a holiday week.

After the General Election was concluded on Nov. 3, the Georgia Secretary of State’s office ordered an audit – or hand recount – of ballots just for the race between incumbent Republican President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger, former Vice-President Joe Biden. Several media outlets including The Associated Press had already declared Biden the winner of Georgia’s 16 electoral votes and named him as President-elect.

The first recount did not change the fact that Biden had more popular votes in Georgia; in Colquitt County Biden gained two votes and Trump one. Trump overwhelmingly won Colquitt County.

Since the margin of error was within what the statute requires to request a recount, that is what the Trump campaign has done in Georgia, Lewis said. The latest numbers show Biden with 49.5 percent of Georgia’s votes with Trump at 49.3.

Lewis said this recount will be different from the hand-counted audit in that it will be conducted much the way it was after Election Day. He said the ballots will be scanned into a central tabulator by batches. In all, 16,141 votes were cast for president by Colquitt County voters.

The first step will be testing the machines to make sure they meet accuracy requirements set by the state. Lewis said this won’t even require as many people as the audit did, but there were still scheduling issues that made beginning after Thanksgiving more sensible. Lewis said the audit took a day-and-a-half; for this recount he hopes to get as much completed that first day.

Then the focus can be on the Jan. 5 runoff elections. Those who applied for absentee ballots by mail are receiving them now; early voting in person begins Dec. 14.

“We encourage voters to come out one more time,” said Lewis. “I think they know it’s not over.”

Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats are being contested, and the Republican Party only needs to win one for majority control of the upper chamber of Congress. A sweep by the Democratic Party would split the membership 50-50, and the Vice-President casts any tiebreaking votes.

It’s incumbent Republican Senator David Perdue vs. Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff in one race and incumbent Republican Kelly Loeffler vs. Democrat Raphael Warnock in the special election to complete former Senator Johnny Isakson’s six-year term that runs through 2022.

There is also a Georgia Public Service Commission runoff, incumbent Lauren McDonald vs. Daniel Blackman, on the Jan. 5 ballot; this runoff was rescheduled from Dec. 1 by the Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

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