The recount of paper absentee ballots conducted by the Athens-Clarke County Board of Elections resulted in 54 fewer votes than were previously counted, a Nov. 16 ACC press release said.
BOE members said on Nov. 14 when the results were certified that 25 fewer ballots had been counted, but that was only based off of eight of the 24 precincts.
The eight precincts had originally been the only ones recounted after BOE member and Cedar Shoals High School teacher Jesse Evans presented petitions requesting a recount at a Nov. 12 meeting. According to the release, paper absentee ballots from the other 16 precincts were recounted because the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office said they could not accept partial recounts.
This directive from the Secretary of State’s Office was received on the afternoon of Nov. 13, meaning the recount for the other 16 precincts began just a couple hours before the 5 p.m. state-mandated deadline to upload the results to the Secretary of State website.
ACC blamed optical scanners for the discrepancies, saying the 54 ballots were the result of an overcount in the unofficial results.
“The original overcount from the previous week was determined to have occurred due to paper ballots being inadvertently counted twice, a situation that can occur when feeding the paper ballots into the optical scan machine and the machine appears to reject the ballot,” the release said.
Although the BOE missed the deadline to upload the results to the Secretary of State’s Office, uploading around 6:30 p.m., the release said ACC did meet the 10 a.m. deadline the next day to have the certified results delivered to the Secretary of State's office in Atlanta.
“To conduct, complete and respond to numerous requests about this election and reach deadlines established by the Secretary of State, this year’s election demanded voting officials work 16-18 hours per day,” said BOE chairman Charles Knapper in the release. “Although we did not reach our goal of certification on Nov. 13 by 5 p.m., our No. 1 priority throughout the process was ensuring that all votes were counted accurately.”
It remains to be seen whether or not ACC will be sanctioned by the state for missing the upload deadline, which ACC attorney William Berryman had warned could happen when the decision to recount was still being debated.
The BOE certified the results around 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 13 after a contentious debate. Evans refused to sign the document certifying the results, as he believed the recount had not been conducted carefully. Evans was also perturbed by the discrepancies.
Evans pointed out that the number of potential discrepancies in the other 16 precincts was still unknown. That number is now known to be 29, bringing the total to 54. Still, a majority of the board members present — Knapper and BOE member Alison McCullick — signed the document.
The release also included the final tally of provisional ballots, 41 of which were accepted in the official results. The tally is as follows:
According to the release, the final tally of votes from ACC was 43,523, a turnout of 61.65 percent of registered active voters. About 28 percent of eligible voters voted early, casting 19,991 votes.