U.S. Senate results set to be certified Friday afternoon
Work got underway Tuesday morning at the senior center at 33 Beavers Drive, as the Bartow County Elections Office began a risk-limiting audit of the runoff elections results.
Teams of two spread across ten tables sifted through ballots from the Jon Ossoff/David Perdue United States Senate race. While Democratic candidate Ossoff won the statewide race roughly 2.26 million votes to 2.21 million votes, Republican incumbent Perdue handily won Bartow by a margin of 32,239 votes to 10,735.
Bartow County Elections Supervisor Joseph Kirk explained why that particular race was selected.
“That was chosen at random by the two party monitors this morning by flipping a coin,” he told The Daily Tribune News.
“We’re using exactly the same procedures,” he said. “We’re looking at every single ballot, and we’re doing that because of the statewide margin of victory rather than the Bartow County margin of victory — I’m hoping that, in the future, other counties join me in doing this, that we see statewide audits after every election.”
The intent of the audit, Kirk said, is to verify that the public’s votes were counted accurately.
“There’s no reason to think the votes were not counted accurately, but since we have the ability, I think it’s important to go back and check and give the public that confidence,” he added.
Tuesday marks the third time the Bartow County Elections Office has conducted a risk-limiting audit since receiving the paper-backed Dominion Voting Systems hardware. He said he would like to make such a standard procedure for all subsequent elections in the county.
By noon Tuesday, Kirk said the process was moving along quicker than he expected.
“After working for three hours, we’ve already gotten through almost all of the Election Day ballots, started on advance voting and I anticipate getting done either this evening or before lunch [Wednesday,]” he said.
In a press release issued Wednesday, Kirk said the entire audit was completed in just one day.
Kirk said he anticipated a very small margin of error once the audit was complete.
“We expect there to be some errors when people hand-count anything, especially 43,000 pieces of paper,” he said. “If we start seeing larger discrepancies, we’ll do an investigation to take the appropriate actions.”
In Wednesday's press release announcement, Kirk said initial data shows an overall margin of error of .01%.
"Within a week we will release a report that goes into more detail as to where errors occurred as well as the tally sheets used during the audit on our website," Kirk stated.
Kirk said the audit cost about $3,000, a price comparable to the audit of the presidential election results last fall.
“Even though the last audit took a little longer, we have more teams working this time, making it a little faster,” he said. “And I’m very appreciative of the senior center donating their facility to us, so we have no costs for rentals or anything like that.”
When speaking with State lawmakers about the Dominion Voting Systems hardware, Kirk said audits have always been a big part of the conversation.
“The reason that I’m comfortable with using barcodes on ballots is these post-election audits,” he said. “It’s important that we do it, there’s no ulterior motive — it really is just part of the process.”
The results of the Jan. 5 runoff elections are expected to be certified Friday at 5 p.m. at the Bartow County Elections Office headquarters at 1300 Joe Frank Harris Parkway.
“I like to have time to go through all the paperwork, meet with my managers, talk about anything I need to bring up to my board,” Kirk said. “I hope that because we audited the ballots, everyone’s confident that their ballot was counted as they intended.”