Statement by Common Cause Georgia Executive Director Aunna Dennis — November 13, 2020

The current hand-count of ballots in the presidential race is the first statewide use of the risk-limiting audit provisions included in last year’s HB 316

Risk-limiting audits are considered “the gold standard” for double-checking whether the election yielded the correct outcome. They have been conducted in Colorado since 2017; Rhode Island held its first statewide risk limiting audit earlier this year. 

Georgia’s hand count of presidential ballots is scheduled to end by Wednesday, November 18. With almost 5 million ballots to count, it is the largest risk-limiting audit ever held in the United States. 

The audit was announced by Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on November 11. 

It comes in the context of a letter from the entire Republican Congressional delegation — and the state Republican Party — urging the Secretary of State to hold a hand-count “re-canvass” of votes for President before election results are certified.

Statement by Common Cause Georgia Executive Director Aunna Dennis

Tens of thousands of Georgians took part in administering last week’s elections. More than 20,000 served as poll-workers. There were thousands of bipartisan adjudication teams reviewing ballots. Hundreds more helped open envelopes and process ballots that arrived by mail. Hundreds more stepped up to be Election Protection volunteers, helping voters who had questions or problems.

Elections in Georgia are a community endeavor. For weeks leading up to the November 3rd election — and in the days since —  our local officials and neighbors serving as election workers have worked long hours for little or no pay to ensure that this election ran as smoothly as possible, even in the middle of a pandemic.

All those people deserve our respect and appreciation.

Many of them are now facing an additional, unexpected burden: taking part in a hand recount of almost five million ballots, in only six days.

We have heard from some of these dedicated people, who have been doing the day-to-day work of administering this election for weeks now. 

They are tired. They had finished the work on this election they had signed up to do. 

Now they are going through all the ballots again, by hand — at the same time they are preparing for upcoming elections on December 1st and January 5th.

All of this is happening in the context of very limited resources, after the US Senate blocked additional elections funding that had been included in the HEROES Act. 

Now county elections offices are paying workers to conduct this hand count.

We urge Secretary Raffensperger’s office to find a way to provide the additional resources that are critically needed by county elections offices.

We know additional resources are needed. Common Cause Georgia has been discussing critical resource needs with elections offices around the state. We have provided PPE to elections offices that could not afford to purchase it. As poll workers decide they’ve “had enough,” we have been helping to recruit new workers. We have been monitoring social media and sending rapid response text messaging to debunk misinformation and disinformation. Common Cause members have also been observing the hand count, to ensure that voters are represented during the process. 

Our county elections officials and workers have gone to great lengths to ensure that Georgia’s elections were conducted safely and securely during this pandemic. Common Cause and other nonpartisan nonprofits have stepped forward to help in any way we can. Now it’s time for Secretary Raffensperger’s office to make sure that our county elections offices have the critical resources that they need.