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A voter drops his absentee ballot into the absentee ballot box at Athens Clarke County Library in Athens, Georgia on election day, Nov. 2, 2020. Following the certified presidential election recount in Georgia on Nov. 21, President Donald Trump’s campaign requested a second recount on Nov. 22. (Photo/Abigail Vanderpoel)

Following the certified presidential election recount in Georgia on Nov. 21, President Donald Trump’s campaign requested a second recount on Nov. 22. 

According to Georgia election recount rules, the Trump campaign is within its right to request the recount because President-elect Joe Biden’s margin of victory was under 0.5%. However, some contest the necessity of such a recount when the results have already been certified and the additional cost will be passed on to taxpayers. 

The second recount is being performed by machines, unlike the hand recount that concluded on Nov. 19. As a result, this recount will be less thorough than the one that was just certified, said University of Georgia Professor of Political Science Charles S. Bullock III. 

“What they’re going to do is simply take all those ballots and run them through scanners so it’s going to be a less detailed effort than the hand recount. So when you run something through a scanner you should get exactly the same result as you got before,” Bullock said.

Both recounts occurred while President Trump and other high-ranking Republicans made unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud.  Even during the first recount, these claims of mismatched signatures on mail-in ballots could not be tested due to the use of secret ballots that maintain the anonymity of each voter’s selections, Bullock said. 

“It literally cannot happen because if you send in an absentee ballot, sign the envelope like you’re supposed to, once they take the ballot out and they can check and say ‘yeah that signature looks like the signature we have on file,’ they throw away the envelope it came in. Otherwise they could go back and determine how you voted, and well, we don’t allow that,” Bullock said. 

Amid an onslaught of death threats aimed at several Georgia elections officials, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger implored President Trump and other election-fraud propagators to accept the legitimacy of Georgia’s election in an op-ed on Wednesday.

“Elections are the bedrock of our democracy. They need to be run fairly and, perhaps more important, impartially. That’s not partisan. That’s just American. Yet some don’t seem to see it that way,” Raffensperger said. 

Despite questions of its efficacy, the second recount began in Athens-Clarke County on Tuesday according to an email from ACC Elections Assistant Lisa McGlaun.  

Although the final cost for both recounts has not been calculated, Fulton County estimates their taxpayers will foot a nearly $400,000 bill that Bullock called “ridiculous.”

Other states that share Georgia’s perceived contention face different circumstances when it comes to costs. The Wisconsin Elections Commission estimates that its recount would cost $7.9 million, but Trump’s campaign would have to pay for it because the margin of votes exceeds Wisconsin’s 0.25% automatic recount margin. The Trump campaign has not communicated a final decision about performing the Wisconsin recount. 

“As a taxpayer I think, gee would I rather have them do that than repave my street, or patch the holes in it, or pick up the garbage more often or something? There are lots of other things that as a taxpayer you probably prefer to see your dollars going for,” Bullock said. 

The Trump campaign’s hope is that this latest counting of Georgia’s ballots will end up altering the certified result, but Bullock says that flipping almost 13,000 votes simply does not happen. Instead, he expects that the only consequences of this recount could be seen in the Georgia legislature. 

“I guess one consequence could be the legislature could narrow the difference in which one gets a free recount and say rather than 0.5%, go down to 0.25%,” Bullock said. 

This would put Georgia in the same position as Wisconsin, but Bullock foresees more contentious election results in Georgia’s foreseeable future. 

“We’re becoming a very competitive state and probably will be for several years. So in 2022… I wouldn’t be surprised to see several of those paths fall into this range,” Bullock said.