ATLANTA - About 60,000 ballots remained to be counted in Georgia Thursday morning, two days after voters went to the polls, an official with Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office said.
That’s down from about 200,000 ballots that were still uncounted the day before.
“Fast is great, and we appreciate fast,” Gabriel Sterling, the voting system manager for the secretary of state’s office, told reporters during a news conference at the Georgia Capitol. “We more appreciate accuracy.”
Since the votes now being counted are mail-in ballots, President Donald Trump’s once healthy lead over Democratic challenger Joe Biden in Georgia is continuing to shrink. With the Republican president urging his supporters to vote in-person during the weeks leading up to Election Day, most of the absentee ballots are coming from Democrats.
As the Trump-Biden contest in Georgia continues to tighten, Republican U.S. Sen. David Perdue’s lead over Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff also keeps shrinking. Perdue’s share of the vote was down to 50.03% on Thursday morning, barely the 50%-plus-one margin needed to avoid a January runoff.
Sterling said the time it’s taking to count Georgia’s absentee ballots is due in part to the state’s elections system, which relies on county elections offices.
“Some are more resourced than others,” he said.
Sterling also noted that Georgia is using paper ballots for the first time in 20 years. Like other states, Georgia elections offices also are grappling with an unprecedented volume of mail-in ballots from voters who were wary of waiting in long Election Day lines during the midst of a global pandemic.
Chatham County accounts for 17,157 of the ballots remaining to be counted, followed by Fulton County with 11,200 still out. Clayton County is next with 7,408 uncounted ballots, followed by Gwinnett County with about 7,300 still out.
With the margins in Georgia so close, Sterling said provisional ballots and absentee ballots sent in by military personnel from overseas could factor into the results.
“We’re going to make sure every lawful ballot is counted,” he said.
As of Thursday morning, Trump held a razor-thin lead over Biden in Georgia, 49.57% to 49.20%. With results in just a handful of states still uncertain, capturing Georgia’s 16 electoral votes would go a long way toward putting either candidate over the top.
Perdue was still leading Ossoff by more than two points – 50.03% to 47.66%. But due to Georgia’s runoff requirements, Perdue can’t afford much more slippage if he wants to win a second Senate term outright.
"If overtime is required when all of the votes have been counted, we're ready, and we will win," Perdue said Thursday.
Sterling said he hopes ballot counting in Georgia will be completed by the end of Thursday.