That’s why states such as Georgia have automatic recount triggers. In close races, that gray area could potentially make a difference. The point of recounts is to suss out such errors and get as precise a result as possible. So when the initial results of the presidential contest in the state gave President-elect Joe Biden a lead of less than three-tenths of a percentage point, the secretary of state announced that a hand recount would follow.
No one expected the recount to erase Biden’s lead of more than 14,000 votes. Usually, such efforts shift margins only by a few hundred. In this case, though, President Trump fared better than normal. A number of counties found small, single-digit deviations in their recounts. Four, however, found ballots that had been missed the first time around.
In Douglas County, votes from a memory card weren’t included in the initial tabulation. In a county where Biden led by 25 points before the recount, he picked up 28 more votes than Trump, 9 percent of the added votes.
In Fayette County, another memory-card error led to Trump gaining a net 449 votes, 16 percent of the found ballots in a county that he won by six points in the initial count.
In Floyd County, workers initially failed to scan more than 2,500 ballots. Trump won the county by more than 40 points; the new ballots favored him by more than 30 points once scanned. That added 778 votes for Trump on net.
Walton County was the third county in which there was a memory card missed in the original tally. It included 284 votes, most of which Trump won. He added a net of 176 votes in a county he won by nearly 50 points.
There was also an allegation floating around, too, propagated by the chairman of the state Republican Party. He claimed that some 10,000 votes in heavily Democratic DeKalb County had been erroneously attributed to Biden, suggesting an even closer contest. But that error was caught days ago and incorporated into the existing count.
Across the four counties, then, that’s a gain for Trump of 1,375 more votes than Biden got. While the final results haven’t been released, it suggests that Biden’s statewide lead narrowed to a bit under 13,000 votes. More than enough to win, but a slightly closer race than what it looked like a week ago. Certainly and indisputably a more accurate tally.
This, in theory, should have been celebrated by Trump. He shaved off nearly 10 percent of Biden’s lead! The system did what it was supposed to. But for Trump the goal was never a more accurate count — it was a count that somehow showed him winning. So his attacks on Georgia continued despite the good news that he was hearing.
On Wednesday, for example, Trump repeatedly tweeted attacks on the recount process or the vote in the state more broadly.
He tweeted a video from Fulton County in which an election administrator discusses scanning votes, the implication of Trump’s tweet being that something sketchy happened, although the video doesn’t actually show any such thing.
He declared that the recount was “a joke” even though “thousands of fraudulent votes have been found.” By which, it seems, he meant that the finding of the votes somehow indicated fraud, not that the votes — most of which he won — were actually cast illegally. In that tweet he went on to insist that voter signatures should be reviewed. But, of course, signatures aren’t matched to votes, given the privacy of cast votes.
Trump also tweeted that the votes found in Fulton County were “Trump votes” as he shared a news story about the initial discovery of the unscanned ballots. This is a very good example of how inconsistent Trump’s rhetoric can be. In the days after the election, as states were counting absentee ballots, he insisted that the votes being counted had been nefariously “found” to benefit Biden. In the recount, with uncounted votes being counted that aid him, he implies that they were nefariously hidden, only to surface now.
In the joke of a recount.
Which, despite being ostensibly stacked against him, for some reason ended up benefiting him anyway.
The state will probably announce the results of the recount Thursday. It was intended not to replace the original count but instead to identify any issues such as the ones that actually surfaced. Biden will probably end up with a lead of somewhere well north of 12,000 votes.
There’s still going to be some imprecision in that number. But it’s more accurate than the count eight days ago and therefore simply reinforces what was generally understood then: Biden flipped Georgia from red to blue.