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DeKalb County nears recount finish line, preps for future elections

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DeKalb County nears recount finish line, preps for future elections

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Aimee Ahmed form Georgia Linewarmers Coalition shows 2020 dumpster fire stickers she handed out to voters who texted 3 friends to remind them to vote at the Clarkston First Baptist Church polling location on Nov. 3, 2020. Photo by Dean Hesse.
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This story has been updated. 

By Logan C. Ritchie, contributor 

DeKalb County, GA — DeKalb County officials may finish a mandated ballot recount of the Nov. 3 presidential election ahead of schedule.

The county could finish the recount tonight, Nov. 30. The recount deadline is Dec. 2 at 11:59 p.m.

In a season of special elections, runoffs, and recounts, voters return to the polls on Dec. 1 for the Congressional District 5 and Doraville District 1 runoffs. Just 10 days ago, the state-certified the outcome of a statewide audit, reaffirming President-elect Joe Biden’s win in Georgia with 12,284 more votes than President Donald Trump. There will be a Senate runoff in Georgia on Jan. 5 that could determine which party controls the U.S. Senate.

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Elections Director Erica Hamilton said at the Nov. 30 meeting of DeKalb County Board of Voter Registration and Elections that the recount is in its final phase.

“We have scanned all ballots at this point. We will go back and do a review to make sure everything was properly scanned,” Hamilton said.

Elections board members are not required to certify the recount unless the ballot count is different than the audit. Hamilton said she doesn’t anticipate that happening.

President Trump and some Republicans are critical of elections processes in Georgia, calling for the resignation of Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. Georgia’s Secretary of State office has 23 investigators looking into allegations of election fraud. Earlier today, Voting System Implementation Manager Gabriel Sterling referred to “ridiculous” lawsuits filed against Georgia counties as an “insanity, fever dream, made up internet cabal.”

Sterling also said 947,928 absentee ballots have been requested for the Jan. 5 Georgia Senate runoff election, including 604,000 rollover absentee ballots. Rollover absentee ballots apply to a set of voters — like seniors — who automatically get ballots mailed to them without having to apply for absentee status.

Around 77,000 absentee ballot applications in DeKalb County were accepted and ballots mailed for the Jan. 5 runoff.

Hamilton said, “We are up-to-date in our processing, whether it be online or those that come in on via our voter [registration] website, or absentee ballot website, faxes; so we are processing those within a 24-hour manner.”

But voter rights advocate Margaret Arnett of Indivisible GA 04 disagrees. In a letter to the Board of DeKalb County Voter Registrations and Elections, Arnett said DeKalb County’s lack of processing absentee ballot applications is a systemic problem.

Georgia law states a voter has the right to submit an absentee ballot application up to 180 days prior to any election. Arnett and two of her family members submitted absentee ballot applications in May for the November election and in June for the January runoff. They were not processed until Arnett contacted the elections office.

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Arnett’s letter states: “Why does DeKalb County Elections apparently have a challenge keeping track of absentee ballot request forms that are submitted that early? Why does DeKalb County Elections seem to have trouble remembering to process applications that were submitted early? This seems to absolutely be a systemic problem for DeKalb County Elections.”

The deadline to register to vote in the Jan. 5 runoffs is Dec. 7. To register, click here. Ballot drop box and early voting locations are still in flux, said Hamilton. There is a list of dropbox locations on the county’s website, which you can see by clicking here.

DeKalb elections officials said if you’ve received a ballot already, you do not have to wait until early voting starts to put your ballot in an official dropbox. Once you have cast your ballot, be sure to keep track of it using the Georgia Secretary of State’s My Voter Page. Once you log in using your first initial, last name, date of birth and county of residence, you’ll be able to check whether your absentee ballot was received and accepted by clicking the “Click here for Absentee Ballot/Early Voting status” link.

Click here for more information on what to do if your absentee ballot is rejected.

The Elections Board voted to keep early voting locations open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays, and 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays – closing early Dec. 24 and Dec. 31. Polls will remain closed on Dec. 25.

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