The Georgia recount requested by President Donald Trump’s campaign is set to begin on Tuesday and will wrap up by midnight of Dec. 2, the secretary of state’s office announced.
The state certified results on Friday showing President-elect Joe Biden carried Georgia, and the state’s ballots have already been counted twice: first during the initial count, and then by a re-tally conducted by hand during a statewide audit that checked the accuracy of the initial machine count. As a result, the recount — a machine re-tally of the vote — is unlikely to change the result.
“Historically, [you] very rarely see much movement in the vote totals” in recounts, Gabriel Sherman, a top official in Georgia secretary of state’s office, said at a press conference Monday evening.
Trump is legally entitled to request a recount, and county and state offices shoulder the cost. But Trump and his allies have also sought to push beyond the recount, demanding an audit of the signatures on mail ballot envelopes. It’s part of a general drive to overturn the results of an election he lost, which is largely failing in courts and before election officials in key states, without Trump or his lawyers presenting evidence of systemic fraud or wrongdoing.
In Georgia, mail ballot signatures are checked twice during the absentee process — when a voter initially requests a ballot, and on the outer envelope when the ballot is returned — but after that, the envelope is separated from the ballot to ensure secrecy of the vote.
The recount will not examine those signatures on the ballot envelopes unless a court orders it or there is a specific investigatory reason to do so, Sherman said. He also questioned what an audit of those signatures would accomplish.
“There’s no prima facie evidence that there has been an issue. And there’s no specific evidence that anybody’s brought to us that anybody has done anything wrong,” Sherman said at a Monday press conference. “It’s a bad precedent unless we can find a legal path with specific evidentiary roots to follow.”
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, has faced withering criticism from the president and other Republicans because he has defended the integrity of the election as Trump lobs unfounded claims of fraud. Raffensperger said that his family has received threats, something Sherman, who is also a Republican, said has also happened to him.