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Newton’s hand audit shows 13 more votes for president than machines counted
Workers counted votes on almost 55,000 ballots cast in Newton County General Election
Hand recount
A Democratic monitor watches an election worker count Newton County votes in the presidential election Monday, Nov. 16, as part of the statewide hand recount ordered by the Georgia Secretary of State. - photo by Tom Spigolon

COVINGTON, Ga. — Newton County’s hand recount of the votes for president in the Nov. 3 General Election differed by 13 votes from the original count.

The recount produced 54,252 votes for the three top presidential candidates in the General Election in Newton County compared to the original count of 54,239 for a difference of 0.024%, according to totals released by the Georgia Secretary of State’s office.

It gave 19 additional votes to President Donald Trump and lowered President-Elect Joe Biden’s count by seven votes in Newton County.

However, it still allowed Biden to win Newton County by a 5,899-vote margin and Georgia as a whole by 12,284 votes — making him the first Democrat to win Georgia since Bill Clinton in 1992. 

A Republican has not won a majority for president in Newton County since George W. Bush in 2004, according to Secretary of State records.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger ordered the hand recount as part of a requirement for auditing the Dominion Voting Systems machines the state uses in all 159 counties.

“Georgia’s historic first statewide audit reaffirmed that the state’s new secure paper ballot voting system accurately counted and reported results,” Raffensperger said in a statement.

His office certified the statewide election results today, Nov. 20.

Phil Johnson, chairman of the Newton County Board of Elections, said he believed the audit was done to prove the system’s reliability.

“The machine is very, very reliable,” he said.

He noted humans made the only errors after they failed to upload some votes cast in four counties, including nearby Walton.

“I’m proud of our office for not having those kinds of problems,” Johnson said.

Gov. Brian Kemp said today, Nov. 20, that it was "hard to believe" an audit found uncounted ballots weeks after the election.

He also said he heard concerns from voters statewide and hopes Raffensperger will consider a system for use of photo IDs to vote absentee by mail in the future.

Kemp added that he wanted the Secretary of State to consider conducting a sample audit of signatures on mail-in ballots because of the same concerns about their vulnerability to fraud.

Election workers did the recount of the Newton County General Election votes for president Nov. 13 through 16 using a method prescribed by the Secretary of State’s office for all 159 counties.

The recount showed Biden with 29,787 votes, Trump with 23,888 and Libertarian candidate Jo Jorgensen with 577 in Newton County.

Votes certified by the board of elections Nov. 9 were Biden with 29,794 votes, Trump with 23,869, Jorgensen with 576. 

The certified totals showed 38% of the votes were cast during the three-week advance voting period in-person; 33% voted in-person on Election Day; and almost 29% were cast absentee by mail. 

About 240 who cast votes in the election either did not vote for president or voted for a write-in candidate.

Johnson said he believed the totals produced by the Dominion machines were much more accurate than those produced by humans after workers hand-counted over three days almost 55,000 votes cast in Newton County.

The statewide results were set for official certification on Friday, Nov. 20, and likely will lead to the state’s 16 electoral votes being cast for Biden on Jan. 6, the Capitol Beat News Service reported.

Trump has until early next week to request a recount in Georgia because of the close margin between him and Biden in the state. That would involve cycling ballots back through tallying machines, the news service reported.