Good morning from Bartow County, about an hour northwest of Atlanta!

The Jan. 5 runoffs aren't within a recount margin, but the elections director in the majority-Republican county is doing a full hand audit to boost voters' confidence in elections after misinfo+attacks. #gapol
The margins in this race aren't even close, but about a dozen teams will still examine 43,034 ballots as a way to both practice the post-election audit process *and* hopefully show people they can trust the voting machines+absentee ballots after Trump+others attacked it.
It's important to note this is not some ploy to delay certification! The audit should wrap up tomorrow, and the deadline for all 159 counties (that's a lot y'all!) is Friday. It's not likely the races get certified any faster (or slower) than normal.

Audit teams are getting trained on how to count and verify the totals of batches of ballots. They count in pairs to ensure human error is minimized, and will review every ballot cast.
The Democratic and Republican Party monitors helped flip a coin to determine which race to audit. Heads was Loeffler/Warnock, the penny landed on tails, so we're going to be looking at the Perdue/Ossoff race!

And we’re off! The sounds of “Perdue “ fill the air as audit teams start working on Election Day ballots.

The former Senator won those votes 13.3k to 2.7k here.
The sounds of counting when 7 out of 8 ballots are for the same candidate is very Finding Nemo-esque and something I can't wait to slide into my radio story.

Working in pairs, teams of election workers in Bartow County conduct a voluntary full hand audit of the U.S. Senate runoff between David Perdue and Jon Ossoff to confirm the winner and restore confidence in a system questioned by President Trump and other top Republicans. #gapol
Longtime Republican poll watcher and current State Election Board member Matt Mashburn stopped by to watch the audit. He says this year has been a paradox - it’s been the most secure and successful election in Georgia, but one the voters trust the least.
Karen Tindall, 71, is a Democratic party monitor. She's volunteered as a poll watcher+absentee ballot adjudicator this cycle+says transparency is key.

"I think we just need to talk about the process and explain it to people, because the elections are safe and they are fair."
Republican monitor Judy Kilgore said observing the process is key to becoming an informed voter and is a way people can rebuild trust with their own eyes:

"I can personally hear them, I can walk around the tables, I can observe what they're doing."
I’ll have more on this story and the “what comes next” in Georgia for @NPR soon!
I'm logging my interviews and sound for this story and now I really wish all vote counting activities could be done with a doo-wop soundtrack!
Update: Bartow audited all of its ballots in one day and found almost no discrepancies in the hand count. Hear more on NPR tomorrow and the full results will be posted, too!

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More from @stphnfwlr

12 Jan
NEW: final “Battleground: Ballot Box” looks at Georgia’s historic Senate runoffs.

What’s old is new, with fights over who we vote for+how those votes are counted.

And what comes next after dozens of Republicans openly tried to overturn democracy? #gapol…
We’ve talked for weeks now about Republicans’ attacks on Georgia’s election integrity.

Looking now to the results of the Senate election that saw incumbent Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler lose, we see the effect some of that rhetoric had.…
As the news of President Trump’s call with SoS Brad Raffensperger resonated across the country, both Biden and Trump headed to the Peach State last Monday for a final push to get voters to the polls in a contest that would decide Senate control.…
Read 6 tweets
11 Jan
Good morning from Day One of the 2021-2022 legislative session in Georgia!

It’s my third year covering the General Assembly and we’ve got some doozies on the horizon: voting laws, redistricting, a pandemic budget and more.#gapol

Buckle up!
Tune in to both chambers now on the General Assembly's shiny new website #gapol:
Now happening: a painfully slow but necessary reading of every single representative and Senator, certified as the winners of their elections, so they can get sworn in.

There are 180 House members and 56 Senators!…
Read 4 tweets
8 Jan
New - David Perdue concedes the race, which Jon @ossoff has won. Georgia's Senate races have flipped control of the chamber. #gapol

" I want to congratulate the Democratic Party and my opponent for this runoff win."
Should note that a) doesn't mention Ossoff by name or if he called him to concede and b) he didn't win the general election... that's why there was a runoff!

c) he isn't Senator David Perdue, he's former Senator David Perdue since his term ended Sunday.

Also - this doesn't necessarily speed up certification, because it still takes time for 159 counties to clear things up.

Read 4 tweets
7 Jan
"On the eve of getting the day in court they supposedly were begging for, President Trump and Chairman David Shafer’s legal team folded Thursday," a statement from @GaSecofState read.…
Here's the letter accompanying the voluntary dismissal, falsely claiming a settlement had been reached (and noting the letter is confidential - also on a public court docket lol)

Here's the response from attorneys for the SOS:

"The letter was not a settlement offer, as you characterize it, but simply a statement that my client was not able to sit down and discuss the issues raised by your clients while there was active litigation." Image
Read 4 tweets
7 Jan
Standby for some Georgia election lawsuit news, including the rest of this fantastic letter posted on a public court docket! Image
NEW: The Trump campaign has voluntarily dismissed four lawsuits challenging November's elections in Georgia after falsely claiming it reached a settlement with the state to review election data. #gapol…
"We are promptly voluntarily dismissing the following legal actions as per your request and consideration of the settlement," reads the letter from Kurt Hilbert, attorney for 4 election challenges.

But lawyers for the state say there was no settlement.…
Read 6 tweets
7 Jan
While grocery shopping Sunday, I received an audio file of the President asking to overturn Georgia's election.

What happened next is why I believe @NPR and its member @nprstations represent the best and the future of impactful local journalism.…
Working with @brettneely, @NPRnie and @benswasey nationally plus @josephinetheb @TheDrashman in Georgia, I quickly jumped to confirm the call, seek comment from all parties and tell you about this extraordinary news on the air and online.…
The truth is, the only reason I got this story *everyone* read is because of years doing stories *nobody* read - like voting machine contract analysis, COVID cases in rural elex offices, hours of boring court hearings...

None of this happens in a vaccum!…
Read 5 tweets

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