(November 20, 2020) — “Georgia’s successful hand count marks a watershed for trustworthy elections in the state and nationally,” said Mark Lindeman, interim co-director. “Using Georgia’s new paper-based voting system, voters can check their ballots, and then election officials can review some or all of the ballots to confirm or correct the results. These practices let Georgia voters have greater confidence that their votes count. Verified Voting has advocated for secure and verifiable elections since our inception in 2004 and we will continue working to make our elections more resilient.”
This comprehensive review of five million ballots constitutes the largest hand count in recent U.S. history. The work was a mammoth undertaking, especially after implementing a new statewide voting system during a pandemic. Verified Voting salutes Georgia election officials and everyone who took part in the audit for their service to Georgia voters. The audit underscores our advice to Georgia voters: “check your ballots carefully – election officials will rely on them as the definitive record of your votes.”
Verified Voting assisted the Georgia secretary of state’s office and VotingWorks in planning the audit, and provided direct technical and procedural support for county election officials. The full hand count was a form of a risk-limiting audit. Ordinarily, risk-limiting audits entail manually reviewing a random sample of paper ballots, and are designed to provide strong statistical evidence that a full hand count would not change a reported election outcome. The size of the sample largely depends on the margin and the audit method. In Georgia, given the extreme closeness of the presidential election, it was more practical to hand-count all ballots than to audit a very large sample. This circumstance is unusual even in competitive elections.
The audit totals closely resemble the reported totals. The audit uncovered some isolated errors in the initial results, which are to be expected in the auditing process. Further evaluation of the audit will inform recommendations for process improvements for future elections and audits in Georgia.