By Beau Evans
Capitol Beat News Service
Around 200,000 ballots remain to be counted in Georgia after a hotly anticipated election Tuesday that saw record-breaking turnout fueled by mail-in and early votes.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said he is pushing for several counties with largely mail-in ballots still uncounted to wrap up work by the end of Wednesday.
“Every legal vote will count,” Raffensperger said in a news conference Wednesday morning.
Georgia’s 16 electoral votes hang in the balance with President Donald Trump leading former Vice President Joe Biden in the state by about 100,000 votes as of noon Wednesday. With several states still counting ballots, the presidential contest so far is too close to call.
The remaining uncounted ballots could also influence the contest between U.S. Sen. David Perdue and Jon Ossoff, who as of noon Wednesday trailed Perdue by about 185,000 votes and was close to forcing a runoff in January.
With national attention fixed squarely on a handful of too-close-to-call states including Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, Raffensperger said Wednesday he feels confident the few counties with uncounted ballots will finish tallying quickly.
“We’ll be off everyone’s radar and they’ll be worrying about the states up north,” Raffensperger said.
The bulk of uncounted ballots are located in DeKalb, Fulton and Forsyth counties, with most being absentee ballots that arrived Monday and Tuesday, Raffensperger said. Those counties were swamped with mail-in votes despite being able to start processing absentee ballots two weeks ago, he said.
State election officials will start auditing election results on Friday and have until Nov. 13 to certify all results, Raffensperger said.
Beyond the uncertainty in the presidential and Senate races, Raffensperger noted elections ran smoothly throughout the state with short wait times on Election Day and droves of voters casting ballots during the three-week early voting period and by mail.
Nearly 4 million Georgians had voted before Election Day even started, which Raffensperger said helped ease pressure on county officials and poll workers to manage polling places safely amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We held an election that was a safe, sensible and responsible election for every eligible voter to access,” Raffensperger said. “Your vote counts.”