Secretary of State’s Office responds to reports of 9,000-vote error in DeKalb County tally

ATLANTA — The Georgia Secretary of State’s Office says a vote tallying error discovered in DeKalb County was never entered into the official state-wide count after rumors circulated online Wednesday.

The chairman of the state’s Republican party, David Shafer, tweeted about what he said was a mistake a GOP observer witnessed in DeKalb County.

The observer filed an affidavit after witnessing what he said was an obviously incorrect tally, with only 13 votes in one batch for President Donald Trump compared to 10,000 for President-Elect Joe Biden.

Secretary of State official Gabriel Sterling dismissed Shafer’s claims outright on Wednesday afternoon, saying that the error was discovered early on and fixed before it ever entered into the official ballot count.

“The error was discovered, it was corrected. It would have been discovered and corrected even without the monitor there to have to point it out,” Sterling said.

“It’s a 9,000-vote discrepancy that was signed off by two official DeKalb counters and would not have been discovered but for the Republican observer,” Shafer said.

Sterling did confirm that a missing memory card was discovered in Douglas County Wednesday morning

The memory card had about 293 votes on it:

  • 156 votes went to President-elect Joe Biden
  • 128 votes went to President Donald Trump

The remaining votes went either to Jo Jorgensen or were undervotes, or when someone doesn’t vote for any candidate.

Sterling said that no more lost votes have been found and workers are on schedule to meet the midnight recount deadline. Over 5 million votes have already been recounted.

“We feel confident in what is happening right now. We haven’t found any other memory cards and nobody’s forgotten anything that we’ve seen yet,” Sterling said. “It doesn’t mean it can’t happen between now and midnight tonight.”

Sterling said Wednesday afternoon that in 21 counties, work is still in progress, including major counties like Fulton, DeKalb and Chatham in Savannah. Channel 2′s Justin Gray learned that counties are now in quality-control and data-entry phases, checking that counts match correctly and watching for mistakes.

Sterling said that the full audit report will be available by noon Thursday.

We’re working to learn more about the latest in the hand-count vote audit, on Channel 2 Action News

[SPECIAL SECTION: Election 2020]

During the hand recount Tuesday, Fayette County uncovered 2,755 votes that were not included in the initial count. Sterling said those ballots were scanned onto a card, but thee votes were never uploaded into the initial count. He says there were several backups designed to catch this issue and that it falls to workers who didn’t follow procedure.

Trump tweeted repeatedly about Georgia Wednesday, calling the recount a “joke.” But on a press call, President-elect Biden’s attorney said the audit process has been fair.

“These developments are entirely consistent with what you would see in any full-hand recount, because human error happens,” Biden’s attorney said.

A group of protesters led by Alex Jones rallied in front of the Georgia State Capitol building on Wednesday, demanding Georgia hold a special session of congress.

[RELATED: Secretary of State says random audit of voting machines found no evidence of tampering or hacking]

Absentee ballot rejection for signature issues jumps 350%, Secretary of State says

The Secretary of State’s office also said Wednesday that the number of absentee ballot rejections for signature issues increased approximately 350% in the November 2020 election in Georgia as compared to the 2018 election, about the same rate of increase as the total number of absentee ballots accepted.

The rejection rate for absentee ballots with missing or non-matching signatures in the 2020 general election was 0.15%, the same rejection rate for signature issues as in the 2018 General Election.

Out of 1,322,529 absentee ballots cast in the November 2020 election, 2,011 were rejected for missing or non-matching signatures out of 1,322,529 absentee ballots cast. In November 2018, 454 absentee ballots were rejected for missing or non-matching signatures out of 284,393 absentee ballots cast. The 0.15% rejection rate for signature issues was the same in both the 2018 and 2020 general elections.

In the 2020 primary, 3,266 absentee ballots were rejected for missing or non-matching signatures out of 1,151,371 absentee ballots cast, a rejection rate of 0.28%. The lower rejection rate in the general election compared to the primary is likely the result of both parties attempting to help voters cure their absentee ballots pursuant to the process set forth in Georgia statute.


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