MARIETTA — With fewer than 13,000 ballots left to count, Cobb County election workers will meet the deadline set by the Georgia Secretary of State to hand recount ballots in the presidential race, the director of the county’s elections department said.
Georgia’s 159 counties have until 11:59 Wednesday to hand-recount all the ballots cast in the presidential election. It’s the first time the state has undergone such a task.
Cobb Elections Director Janine Eveler said she was confident her staff will meet the deadline, though she did not say when she expected the counting to be done.
“We think we’re down to the last few containers,” Eveler said Monday afternoon at the Jim R. Miller Park event center, where the county is conducting its audit. “We’ll meet the deadline. There’s no problem with that.”
Over 384,000 ballots have been recounted in the county’s audit as of Monday evening, Eveler said. In all, Cobb voters cast 396,551 ballots in the presidential race.
The bulk of the ballots to be audited were expected to be done Monday, Cobb County spokesperson Ross Cavitt told the MDJ. The remaining ballots are provisional ballots and duplicated ballots, which are examined by a voter review panel with representatives from both parties. These votes, which originally totaled about 5,000, include ballots that were cast at the wrong precinct or that couldn’t be scanned by a machine when they were submitted.
Eveler said she expects the board will re-certify results after the audit, but her department is seeking direction from the Georgia Secretary of State’s office.
She credited her staff for their work on the audit.
“We have a great staff here,” she said. “Everybody here has been working super, super hard. It was a monumental task, and they did a great job.”
“The heavy lifting will be done today,” Cavitt said Monday afternoon.
The majority of the ballots had been recounted Monday, despite a setback over the weekend that forced workers to count over 100,000 ballots a third time.
Friday, the secretary of state’s office advised that counties could not use machines to count ballots sorted by hand, which is what Cobb workers doing Friday, the day it started the county’s audit. At least 115,000 ballots had been recounted by the incorrect method.
Eveler said things had gone smoothly since the audit began, and while she expected a slight difference after the recount due to human error, it would not affect the outcome.
“We have not seen any anomalies with what we’ve been counting,” she said.
Workers recounting ballots are split up into different teams to ensure people who know each other aren’t working together, Eveler said, and are mixed up into new groups every day.
Among the workers, there are also poll monitors who more closely inspect the recount. Poll monitors are designated by the state Democratic and Republican parties. The two parties each have four poll monitors watching the teams at a time, county officials said.
Sara Tindall Ghazal, who ran for State House District 45, was among the Democrats observing the recount, and agreed that the recount had gone well, though it was unprecedented.
“They’re following the guidelines the secretary of state laid out,” she said. “I’m sure it was frustrating to have to recount everything that they had done on Friday. ... That’s really the only thing I know of.”
A representative of the Republicans serving as poll monitors declined to comment on the Cobb audit.