Douglas County elections officials began a machine recount on Monday of the nearly 70,000 presidential election ballots cast last month.
Residents also have less than a week to register to vote in the three upcoming runoff elections next month, and early voting is set to begin in two weeks.
This is the third count done by elections officials in the month since Election Day on Nov. 3. The first statewide count had President-elect Joe Biden capturing the state by 14,000 votes. The second narrowed Biden’s lead to 12,670 after some counties — including Douglas — found missing ballots among the five million cast across Georgia.
County officials finished a hand recount of the 69,097 presidential ballots cast in the weeks after the election. Former vice president and current president-elect Joe Biden carried Douglas with 61.95% of the votes cast in the presidential election to President Donald Trump’s 36.83%.
Trump requested a third count last weekend, which he is entitled to do because his margin is less than 0.5%. But instead of another hand recount, Douglas County Election Director Milton Kidd and his staff are scanning the presidential ballots using machines.
However, the secretary of state’s office does not believe this recount will change the outcome of the presidential election in Georgia. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger and Gov. Brian Kemp certified the results on Nov. 20 after the hand recount upheld the results.
Meanwhile, residents who want to vote in the upcoming U.S. Senate and Public Service Commission runoffs on Jan. 5 have less than a week to register. The registration deadline is Dec. 7, and early voting will begin on Dec. 14.
There are two U.S. Senate seats up for grabs this year, which is unusual in state politics. Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff is challenging incumbent U.S. Sen. David Perdue in one race. U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler is facing the top Democratic challenger, the Rev. Raphael Warnock, in the other Senate race.
Georgia’s twin U.S. Senate races are bringing national attention to the state, including visits from such national political leaders as Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.
These runoffs will determine the fate of the U.S. Senate because the races will determine which party rules the chamber.
The Republicans currently have 50 seats in the U.S. Senate while the Democrats have 48, according to AP. If both Democratic candidates win in the runoffs, the Senate will be split 50-50 between parties. Any tie vote would be broken by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.
On Monday, the campaigns for Ossoff and Warnock, along with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the state’s Democratic Party, announced the leadership team that will direct a multimillion-dollar runoff coordinated campaign to register as many voters for the upcoming elections.
The initiative includes door-to-door canvassing that will observe all necessary COVID-19 precautions, outreach to minority groups and a voter turnout program geared toward educating votes about the unique runoff election.
“Together, we are building the strongest organizing and turnout program in Georgia history,” Ossoff said in the announcement release. “I’m grateful to work with this extremely talented team as we organize an unprecedented volunteer army to prioritize outreach to voters of color and rural voters, communicate clearly the stakes of this historic election and defend every Georgian’s sacred right to vote.”
The state Republican party is asking for volunteers to help make phone calls, knock on doors, watch the polls, provide legal services and help with the recount. Those interested can visit gagop.org and click the “Protect the Senate” link on the website. Donations are also being accepted.
As of Friday, more than 900,000 state residents had requested absentee ballots for the January runoff elections, according to the Twitter page of former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.
Abrams is the founder of the Fair Fight organization that promotes fair elections across the state and around the country. The group also encourages voter participation in elections and educate residents about their voting rights.
“Fair Fight Action engages in voter mobilization and education activities and advocates for progressive issues,” a statement on the organization’s website said.
Residents who want to vote by mail can request an absentee ballot at ballotrequest.sos.ga.gov. Those who requested to vote absentee for the entire election cycle ahead of the June primary do not need to make a request for an absentee ballot.