COVINGTON — Elections officials in Rockdale and Newton counties have wrapped up the recount and audit of the Nov. 3 presidential election results with little change in the vote tallies.

Cynthia Willingham, supervisor of Rockdale’s Board of Elections, said her employees and volunteers completed the recount Saturday at 3:30 p.m. after beginning the process Friday morning. “We were three votes off versus what we counted election night,” she said.

Willingham said the recount resulted in a similar margin of victory for Joe Biden over President Trump to the original count on election night, with Biden receiving nearly 70% of the Rockdale vote.

Newton County elections officials completed the recount and audit of the Nov. 3 presidential election Monday afternoon after working from Friday through the weekend.

Board of Elections Chairman Phil Johnson said the county transmitted the results to the Secretary of State’s Office Monday afternoon for certification.

“We will let the Secretary of State publish the results, but I can report that the audit tally from counting 54,592 votes by hand varied just a very few votes from the results certified by the board,” he said in an emailed statement.

Newton voters also chose Biden over Trump, with nearly 55% of the vote going to Biden.

Statewide, the margin is much closer as the recount continues throughout the state. As of Tuesday morning, Trump had 49.24% of votes in Georgia and Biden had 49.52%. Willingham said if the final audit tally results in a vote difference of less than half a percentage point, Trump will be entitled to a recount.

“If it’s half a percent or less, you are entitled to an automatic recount upon request,” she said. If a recount is requested, Willingham said it will be done mostly by machine, although the mail and provisional ballots will be hand counted. That process should take about a day, she said.

The cost of two days of hand recounting the ballots in Rockdale was in the $30,000 range, Willingham said.

In Newton, Johnson thanked those involved with carrying out the recount and said the new voting system measured up.

“I want to thank (Elections Supervisor) Angela Mantle and (Assistant Director) Angela Davis, the permanent and temporary staff members, the Board of Election members, the state and local Republican and Democratic monitors and the observers who spent much of their weekend participating in the audit,” said Johnson. “The audit results should provide confidence in the results of the Newton County Nov. 3, 2020 General Election count. This was our first year using the Dominion system, and the audit confirms the vote tally from the machine count.”

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger last Wednesday announced that the state would conduct a hand recount of the nearly 5 million ballots cast in the 2020 presidential race in which Biden and Trump were separated by roughly 14,000 votes. Raffensperger called for the recount as part of a regular audit of the election results, which were poised to be done via an electronic sampling of ballots before Raffensperger revised the process under emergency powers due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.

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