Election officials spent all day last Friday and again all day Monday hand recounting presidential election votes in Baldwin County.
Those involved in the historic recount process worked regular hours each of those days — from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.
And when everything was finalized at the end of the day Monday, there was only a slight difference in what the voting machines tabulated and the number of votes counted by hand, according to Baldwin County Elections Superintendent Todd A. Blackwell.
“We could see the goal line, so we moved on across,” Blackwell said, referring to a Monday afternoon finish as opposed to going another day.
After recounting 18,353 presidential ballots, Republican Pres. Donald J. Trump ended up with three more votes, while former Vice President Joe Biden, a Democrat, ended up with one less vote than previous figures had revealed in Baldwin County, Blackwell told The Union-Recorder in a telephone interview Monday night.
Four days after the election, The Associated Press projected as Biden the president-elect. But, more than two weeks after the election, Trump still has not conceded and continues to wage legal battles in several states over claims of voter fraud and irregularities. Judges have since dismissed some legal claims by attorneys representing Trump, who had sought a second four-year term.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger ordered the presidential hand recount of votes although there is no mandatory recount state law. Georgia law does, however, provide an option to a trailing candidate if the margin is less than 0.5 percentage points.
Asked what he attributed the difference between the hand recount versus the tabulation made by the voting machines in the Nov. 3 general election, Blackwell was quick to respond.
“I attribute that to the same thing we knew years ago, is that anytime human beings are counting 18,353 times, you do have the possibility of human error,” Blackwell said.
The longtime county elections superintendent said he felt good about the recount.
“However, I think this was an audit of the election system,” Blackwell said. “It’s like I said on the first day before we started, that I thought what we were going to learn from this is whether we can trust the count on the voting machine scanners.”
He pointed out when the recount reveals that the vote count is only off by three votes there is a margin of human error to consider.
“Whereas a computer doesn’t necessarily have that margin of error,” Blackwell said. “It just counts what is fed into it.”
Blackwell said he felt like that would be what is taken away from the hand recount and audit.
“I thought that in the beginning and I still feel that way,” he added. “With 18,353 ballots reviewed that human beings audited that number and came within three votes of the total tabulation matched to a computer, I think at that point you could easily say that you can trust your computer count.”
Overall, Blackwell said he felt good about the results.
During the two-day process, representatives from both major political parties — Democrats and Republicans — along with others from the community were invited to watch as poll workers recounted the presidential votes by hand inside a large conference room located in the new Baldwin County government complex, off North Columbia Street in Milledgeville.
Both parties also sent representatives down to Milledgeville from the Atlanta area to observe the historical presidential hand recount process.
Seven two-person teams were assembled to count the votes for each of the presidential candidates.
Asked how they managed to complete the task as quickly as they did, Blackwell credited each of those 14 persons, as well as members of his staff.
“We had some very dedicated poll workers helping us with this task and I also had some very good help from my staff,” Blackwell said. “The poll workers who helped us came in on short notice to do this.”
Blackwell applauded each of the poll workers and his staff members for doing what he called “an exceptional job.”