Bartow County Elections Supervisor Joseph Kirk indicated the local audit of the 2020 presidential election results has been completed.
“The counting portion is done, one of the things I’m going to do this morning is go through and double check my data entry in the State system, then finalize the results from here,” he told The Daily Tribune News on Tuesday morning. “We expect the State to release the results of the audit towards the end of this week, and at that time, I’ll start releasing some more data.”
Kirk said that a called public meeting of the Bartow County Board of Elections and Voter Registration is scheduled for 3 p.m. Wednesday at the local elections office headquarters at 1300 Joe Frank Harris Parkway.
“They sent out a new document saying not to recertify unless you discover we were missing votes or had counted folks twice,” Kirk said. “So we will not be recertifying any of the ballot candidates — that being Biden, Trump or Jorgensen — we will be recertifying some write-in candidates who did not get the votes they were entitled to during the virtual process.”
“It’s well within the margin of error that we expected,” he said. “When you have a group of, basically, paid volunteers, temporary employees who are counting over 50,000 pieces of paper, there are going to be a few discrepancies. But the discrepancies are very small, nothing that would change any outcome.”
By and large, Kirk said the audit in Bartow County went surprisingly smooth.
“Everyone wanted to be sure it was done properly, my staff took it very seriously and I think everybody was pleased with the process,” he said. “We were trying to work with everybody there to make sure we stayed safe, to give them the amount of access that they needed to feel confident in the process we were doing. And this being the first time we’ve ever done anything this big, this controversial, I was pretty pleased with how it went.”
However, Kirk said he would like to see the State and counties work together to develop more “clear-cut guidelines” for the observation portion of the auditing process — in essence, establishing the same set of rules across the state.
Kirk said he sees no reason why such audits shouldn’t take place in the future, especially in races with margins so close.
“The amount of confidence it gives us in our results, and it should give the public in our results, is well worth the effort,” he said.
With national media attention heaped on neighboring Floyd County — where about 2,600 uncounted ballots were uncovered during that jurisdiction’s auditing process — Kirk assured local voters that no “missing votes” have been reported in Bartow.
“Part of our canvassing procedure is to verify that we have all the votes in the system that should be in the system,” he said. “We checked into that before we certified the original results and we’re good.”
And that canvassing period, Kirk said, is extremely important when it comes to addressing potential human errors in the process.
“The reason results are considered unofficial and incomplete on election night, the reason that it takes me a week or two to certify the results is going through and checking things like that to make sure all the votes got in the system, to make sure everything lines up the way it should,” he said. “And if there’s anything I need to explain, I explain at the board certification meeting so they can decide whether or not to certify those results based on what’s presented to them.”
Policies and procedures, Kirk said, can always be tweaked and improved. But in Bartow County, at least, he said the auditing process went better than he anticipated.
“We continue to perfect those procedures every election as we discover new things, especially with a new voting system,” he said. “But I think we’re doing good here.”