County election workers across Georgia on Tuesday began a machine recount of the roughly 5 million votes cast in the presidential race, just days after completing a hand tally that confirmed President-elect Joe Biden's lead.
Some counties only planned to get as far as testing the equipment Tuesday, with the actual counting to begin Wednesday.
Hall County officials began Tuesday scanning all ballots, which include early voting, election day ballots, absentee ballots by mail and provisional ballots.
According to county spokesman Brian Stewart, approximately 12,000 ballots were scanned Tuesday.
Counting will continue Wednesday and then from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. It will resume at 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 30, as well as Tuesday, Dec. 1.
The ballots will be adjudicated Wednesday, Dec. 2, in the lower level of the government center, which is at 2875 Browns Bridge Road in Gainesville.
“The public is welcome to observe from the observation area as in previous counts/recounts,” Hall County spokeswoman Katie Crumley wrote in an email.
State election officials have said that it's possible the results of the recount could be slightly different from the original tally, but they've said it's very unlikely it would be enough to change the overall outcome of the election.
Meanwhile, the county elections board set the times, dates and locations for early voting for the Jan. 5 runoff in Georgia’s two senate races.
Early voting will start Dec. 14, and Hall County will have four locations open.
On weekdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., voters can go to the East Hall Community Center, North Hall Community Center, Spout Springs Library or the former Turner, Wood and Smith building at 100 Brenau Ave. in Gainesville. Early voting will run from Dec. 14 to 31, with holidays off on Dec. 24 and 25.
On Election Day, voters will have to go to their assigned polling place. Voters can find their polling place by checking the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office My Voter Page site or call the county elections office at 770-531-6945.
Hall County’s elections board set the early voting hours at a Tuesday, Nov. 24 meeting. Board members wanted to balance the need to accommodate voters who work during regular business hours with staffing needs at the county. Elections Director Lori Wurtz said some regular polling workers will be unavailable because the early voting period falls during the holiday season.
Wurtz had first proposed voting at the four locations from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., citing the shortage of poll workers. County Attorney Van Stephens said the county is required by state law to hold early voting at at least one location during business hours, although business hours are not defined.
But the board then decided to discuss other options.
“Eight to five, for me, is a difficult time to catch workers. … I would rather it be something like noon to 7, so we get lunch and then after work, but evidently the law, from what I understand, somewhat handcuffs us,” board member Craig Lutz said.
Lutz proposed holding voting from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. but cutting the East Hall Community Center as a location. No other board members supported that suggestion. Board member David Kennedy proposed voting at all four locations from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. but that suggestion also did not pass, with the vote split and chairman Tom Smiley voting against it.
Lutz ended up voting against the final motion of four locations from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., citing concerns about staffing. Other board members approved it.
Wurtz said people can call the elections office at 770-531-6945 if they would like to become a poll worker. The poll worker count has been fluctuating, and a number was unavailable Tuesday afternoon, she said.
The county will keep its two absentee ballot drop box locations at the Hall County Government Center and Spout Springs Library.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.