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Hall has certified recount results; state investigating in the county
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger - photo by Associated Press

Update, Dec. 3: Hall County has certified results in its third count of the Nov. 3 presidential race, with President Donald Trump continuing to carry the county.

Trump got 70.89% of the votes in Hall, according to results posted by the Georgia Secretary of State's Office. Counties have until noon Friday, Dec. 4 to certify results.

After the initial vote count, all counties in Georgia did a hand recount of the race. After that hand recount, the Trump campaign requested another recount, with that count done by rescanning ballots through machines.

Original story: Hall County has finished rescanning ballots in its recount of the presidential race as the state’s deadline of midnight tonight approaches and a senior state elections official called on the president himself to calm tensions in Georgia.

Hall began on Nov. 24 and finished Saturday, Nov. 28. Results will be reported by the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office.

Georgia counties previously did a hand recount of all ballots cast in the Nov. 3 presidential race. That audit was requested by Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and when the hand recount found a close margin — former Vice President Joe Biden led President Donald Trump by 0.25% statewide — the Trump campaign requested a recount. Under state law, a candidate can request a recount if the margin is within 0.5%. 

This second recount has been done using machines, with county elections staff running ballots through scanners. The previous recount was done entirely by hand and included representatives of each major political party. 

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Lori Wurtz, Hall County’s elections director, said that while the second recount was open for public observation, counties were not required to have a certain number of monitors from each party present. Party monitors could either go into the room where ballots were being scanned or observe from the hallway, Wurtz said. The county elections office had a public observation area with windows looking into the counting room.

Some ballots that were rejected by scanners still need to be adjudicated before being counted. Adjudication panels have three people each — one person designated by the county elections board, along with one Republican and one Democrat. In the first count following the Nov. 3 election, Hall sent 1,093 ballots to the panels, although Wurtz said an exact number remaining in this count was unavailable Monday afternoon.

Adjudication is set for 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 2, at the Hall County Government Center, 2875 Browns Bridge Road in Gainesville. Panels will meet at the elections office, and the process is open for public viewing.

Meanwhile, Gabriel Sterling, the state’s voting system implementation manager, said at a 3:30 p.m. press conference Tuesday that 91 counties had finished the recount, and “no real anomalies” had been found. He did not list Hall in the counties that have finished.

But Sterling opened Tuesday’s press conference by saying “it has all gone too far,” referring to threats against those involved in the state’s election. A voting system contractor and his family were being harassed and someone had put “a noose out there with his name on it,” Sterling said. Raffensperger’s address has been leaked, and his wife was receiving threats on her cell phone, Sterling said. He said he also has police protection outside his own home.

“Yes, fight for every legal vote. Go through your due process. We encourage you. Use your First Amendment. That’s fine,” Sterling said. “Death threats, physical threats, intimidation, it’s too much. It’s not right. They have lost the moral high ground to claim that it is.”

Sterling criticized politicians for not condemning the threats.

“Mr. President, you have not condemned these actions or this language. Senators, you have not condemned this language or these actions. This has to stop,” Sterling said. “We need you to step up, and if you’re going to take a position of leadership, show some.”

People should be angry about the threats regardless of their political affiliation, Sterling said.

“Mr. President, it looks like you likely lost the state of Georgia,” he said. “We’re investigating. There’s always the possibility. I get it, you have the rights to go through the courts. What you don’t have the ability to do, and you need to step up and say this, is stop inspiring people to commit potential acts of violence. Someone is going to get hurt, someone is going to get killed, and it’s not right.”

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The latest Hall County 2020 Presidential election recount takes place Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020, at the Hall County Elections Office. - photo by Scott Rogers

Raffensperger said during a news conference at the state Capitol Monday that his office continues to investigate any credible claims of illegal voting and violations of state election law. His office currently has more than 250 open cases from this year, he said. 

He singled out groups that he said are working to register people in other states to vote in a high-profile runoff election for Georgia's two U.S. Senate seats. His office's 23 investigators also continue to look into allegations of problems with absentee ballots, as well as claims of people who voted twice, people who cast a ballot in a dead person's name and non-residents who voted in Georgia, he said.

Raffensperger said his investigators are also looking into specific allegations of improper actions by four groups. 

America Votes has sent absentee ballot applications to people at addresses where they haven't lived in more than 25 years, while Vote Forward tried to register a dead Alabama woman to vote in Georgia and the New Georgia Project sent voter registration applications to New York City, he said. 

A spokesperson for America Votes said in an email to The Associated Press that the group is working to make sure every voice is heard. 

"America Votes has mailed registered voters in Georgia applications to safely and securely vote by mail in the January runoffs. These mailings were sent to the list of registered voters maintained by the Secretary of State," Sahil Mehrotra wrote.

An emailed statement from Vote Forward says volunteers send letters encouraging people to vote.

“The letters our volunteers are mailing in advance of the January 5th special election are being sent only to Georgia addresses, not to any other state These letters do not include registration applications and do not directly register anyone to vote," the statement said.

The New Georgia Project called the allegations “tired and false.”

“As Georgians are turning out in record numbers to have their voices heard at the polls, the Secretary of State is resorting to desperate attempts to smear law-abiding organizations and scare eligible Georgians from registering to vote in critical upcoming elections. We will not be deterred,” executive director Nse Ufot said in an emailed statement.

Raffensperger also said Operation New Voter Registration Georgia is telling college students they can register to vote in Georgia for the runoff and then change back to another state afterwards. An email sent to the group bounced back, saying the account doesn't exist.

A spokesman for the Secretary of State’s Office said one of the investigations “dealing with custody of ballots” involves Hall. He declined to comment further on the pending investigation and said documents related to the investigation would be exempt from an open records request. 

Wurtz said Monday she had not yet received notification from the state about an investigation, but on Tuesday, county spokeswoman Katie Crumley said county officials had since spoken with the Secretary of State’s Office about the investigation.


“We received limited information; however, we cannot comment on an open investigation,” Crumley said in an email.

Northeastern Judicial Circuit District Attorney Lee Darragh said Tuesday he has not heard the allegation and his office has not been consulted on the matter.

Tom Smiley, chairman of the county’s elections board, said Tuesday he has “100% confidence in our election staff.” He declined to comment further, citing the open investigation, but said “any accusation of fraud is in my opinion totally unfounded.”

The Georgia Senate Government Oversight Committee will meet at 10 a.m. Thursday at the state Capitol to review elections processes. State Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville, serves on that committee and said that while the committee does not review processes after every election, it is done “from time to time.”

Butch Miller
State Sen. Butch Miller, R-Gainesville

Miller said the committee will hear from Fulton, DeKalb and Muscogee counties, as well as the Secretary of State’s Office, on Thursday. The chairman of the committee selected those counties, Miller said. Those counties are larger, and the committee could learn from hearing about their experiences, Miller said.

The committee will look at “how we might make sure that we are having processes and procedures in place that would make sure that the voter, the citizens in Georgia, know that every vote matters and every vote is counted,” Miller said.

Miller said he had not “personally witnessed widespread voter fraud,” but those who have firsthand knowledge of an issue can submit a sworn statement to have it investigated.

The Georgia Senate will livestream Thursday’s meeting online. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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