ATLANTA — President Donald Trump’s campaign said Saturday it is seeking a second recount of presidential election votes in Georgia after the first one did not turn out in his favor.
Under state election rules the campaign is within its rights; the first hand recount, completed Thursday and certified Friday, had been automatically triggered by a new state law.
Campaigns can request an additional machine recount if a vote margin is within 0.5 percent. The final certified results had Joe Biden at 49.51 percent compared to Trump at 49.25 percent for a margin of 0.26 percent.
“Today, the Trump campaign filed a petition for recount in Georgia,” the campaign said in a statement. “We are focused on ensuring that every aspect of Georgia State Law and the U.S. Constitution are followed so that every legal vote is counted.”
Unlike in Wisconsin – where the Trump campaign had to pay $7.9 million upfront to cover the statewide cost – the bill for recounts in Georgia is footed by taxpayer-funded local jurisdictions.
State officials have not provided a total cost estimate, but Fulton County, Georgia’s most populous, estimates a recount could cost around $200,000.
Jaclyn Rothenberg, communications director for President-elect Joe Biden’s Georgia campaign said in a statement Saturday night, “Last week’s recount reaffirmed what we already knew: Georgia voters selected Joe Biden to be their next president.”
‘There is no reason to believe there are widespread errors or fraud and the Trump campaign has no evidence to back up their baseless claims,” she said. “With regards to signature matching, both parties were aware of the rules set forth months before the election and all signatures have already been matched. Any further recount will simply reaffirm Joe Biden’s victory in Georgia a third time.”
Campaign-requested recounts involve rescanning paper ballots, which would not address Trump’s call to “include signature matching.” The statewide audit did not verify signatures because once outer envelope signatures are verified before votes are originally tallied, they are separated from the ballots inside to maintain voter secrecy.
On Friday, Republican Gov. Brian Kemp said he heard from Georgians concerned over the inability to match signatures during the hand recount audit of five million ballots.
“The Georgians I have heard from are extremely concerned about this, so I encourage Secretary Raffensperger to consider addressing these concerns,” he said. “It seems simple enough to conduct a sample audit of signatures on the absentee ballot envelopes and compare those to the signatures on applications and on file at the Secretary of State’s Office.”
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has not said whether his office is considering such a plan.
Georgia election official Gabe Sterling, in a news conference earlier this week, seemed to plead for Trump’s election challenges to end: “Look, you’ve already got a hand recount. Nothing changed. Let’s not do that.”
Jester reported from Atlanta and Romero from San Diego.