Cobb County nears finish line of presidential election audit

The applause echoed through the room just before 4:30 Monday afternoon. After four full days of hand tallying ballots inside the event center at Jim Miller Park, elections workers in Cobb County announced they had reached the last bin.

Cobb County Elections Director Janine Eveler said the process went smoothly.

"We will have probably different numbers and a different distribution of the candidate spread just because there is human error involved in hand counting, but we have not seen any anomaly with what we've been counting," Eveler explained.

The Secretary of State's Office ordered the by-hand audit of the presidential race last week. Counties were instructed to begin the count by 9 Friday morning and given a deadline of midnight Wednesday to submit their results.

During the recount teams of two people, known as "audit boards," are given a batch of ballots. Each person visually confirms the candidate the voter chose and they sort the ballots into bins for Donald Trump, Joe Biden, Joe Jorgensen, and other candidates.

In Cobb County, the audit boards consisted of full-time county employees and temporary poll workers. Eveler stressed that the people on each audit board are strangers.

"They don't come in and sit down with their friend that they arrived with and each day they're mixed up again. So we have some random teams of people," Eveler explained.

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Once the audit board has sorted an entire batch of ballots, they then count up each stack and record their results on a tally sheet. The ballots are then sealed back up in their original box and the tally sheet is turned over to the data entry team.

Any ballots that were damaged or where a voter's intent is not clear go a "vote review panel," which is made up of one Democrat, one Republican, and one election worker. They inspect the ballot and make a final determination about which candidate the voter chose.

"We had about 5,000 of those. So, they are going through all of those," said Eveler. "The most time-consuming part is matching up the defective ballot that was stored separately and finding it again and matching it up with its duplicate so that they can check that the first vote review panel that looked at them, duplicated correctly."

While the initial counting ended Monday afternoon, officials said data entry and the vote review panels will continue their work into Tuesday and possibly Wednesday.