An audit of votes in Georgia has found more than 2,500 uncounted ballots, nearly two-thirds of which favour Donald Trump – but officials say the development won’t materially impact the results of the election in the state.
Leading Mr Trump by more than 14,000 votes, Joe Biden has been projected as the winner in Georgia by most major news networks. About five million votes were cast in total in the state, which is still heading for a Democrat victory for the first time in 28 years.
Gabriel Sterling, an official with the Georgia secretary of state’s election team, revealed that of the newly discovered, uncounted votes, 1,643 were for Mr Trump, 865 for Mr Biden and 16 for Libertarian candidate Jo Jorgensen, according to the Associated Press, which is yet to declare a winner in the state.
“The reason you do an audit is to find this kind of thing,” said Mr Sterling, adding that it was an isolated issue discovered during the recount in Floyd County, and that there were “no fundamental changes” in other counties in the state.
He said it seems proper procedures weren’t followed when the results were tabulated by machine, but that officials caught the problem during the by-hand tally as the county had retained the paper ballots.
County election board Chairman Tom Rees said election officials weren’t sure how they were missed the extra ballots.
The hand count in Georgia is being conducted as a result of state law, which demands an audit to check voting machine figures when the overall results in an election are close. By Monday evening, the vast majority of Georgia’s 159 counties had completed the physical hand tally.
Georgia’s secretary of state Brad Raffensperger, who is a Republican, explained that the reason behind an audit was the narrow margin between the two candidates, and not as a result of pressure from any political party.
From the moment results in the election count started tilting in favour of Mr Biden, Mr Trump has been crying foul, alleging election fraud without offering any concrete evidence. His campaign is trying to legally challenge the election results in various states.
Mr Trump has refused to concede and instead recently tweeted that he “won the election” – a claim that Twitter immediately slapped with a warning that “official sources called this election differently.”
Mr Biden’s campaign, meanwhile, has maintained calm and pointed that the recount may change the vote count in some areas but the overall result will remain in their favour.
“We continue, after two and a half days of this audit, to agree with the secretary of state that there is no reason to believe that any widespread irregularities have been found,” Mr Biden’s campaign lawyer Patrick Moore said.
Additional reporting by agencies