Secretary of State opens investigation into how Coffee Co. handled recount

Saturday, people in Albany can hear from every mayoral candidate at a town hall meeting. 
Saturday, people in Albany can hear from every mayoral candidate at a town hall meeting. This is ahead of the November General Election.(WALB)
Updated: Dec. 9, 2020 at 7:40 PM EST
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ATLANTA, Ga. (WALB) - Georgia’s Secretary of State’s Office (SOS) announced Wednesday evening that it has opened an investigation it how Coffee County handled the Nov. 2020 presidential election recount that was to be finalized on Dec. 2.

“All counties were to be completed by Wednesday night, Dec. 2, at midnight, as instructed by the Secretary of State. By Thursday, there were six counties finalizing their recount upload. On Thursday, Coffee County officials were working with the Secretary of State’s office and Dominion Voting Systems to resolve a discrepancy of 50 votes,” a press release from the Secretary of State’s Office.

According to the SOS, Coffee County was the only county that had not completed its recount upload. On the morning of Dec. 4, the SOS said it had received a letter from Coffee County’s Board of Election saying they were not going to certify their recount.

“State Elections Director Chris Harvey, called Coffee County’s elections director, Misty Martin. Mr. Harvey brought Deputy Director Blake Evans in on the call to discuss the situation. Ms. Martin said that the hand audit showed that they were off by one vote from the original count, but now, following the recount, Coffee County’s tally was off by 51 votes. Further, the county’s tally was showing two batch uploads of 50 ballots each. It became apparent that Ms. Martin was unsure whether she had scanned a batch of 50 ballots twice, which would account for the 50-vote discrepancy (Ms. Martin also noted that Coffee County had comingled their advance voting and Election Day ballots, adding further disorganization to the process). Again, though she could not say for certain that she had scanned the same batch of 50 ballots twice, that seemed a likely possibility,” the press release read.

The SOS said the letter from Coffee County blamed the voting system for the 51-vote discrepancy, however, officials did not specify what mechanical issues they encountered.

“The Secretary of State’s office informed Ms. Martin that she had to resolve the recount, and if necessary, recertify and upload the recount results. She said she instead wanted to use her election night results. Director Harvey informed her that the recount required the scanning of the ballots. Ms. Martin stated she was going to rescan some of her ballots and try to resolve the issue."

“Mr. Harvey called her back later Friday afternoon. Ms. Martin said she was scanning ballots, but that the scanner was stopping intermittently. Mr. Harvey called Dominion to make sure they could send a technician to help."

“Around 4 p.m. on Friday afternoon, Mr. Harvey tried calling Ms. Martin back to check on Coffee County’s progress. He could not get her on the phone despite multiple attempts. He then attempted contacting her by text message as well but got no response. Later that afternoon, Mr. Harvey learned from Dominion that the Board told her to “go home” and that they would start again Monday."

“On Monday morning, members of the Secretary of State’s Elections team spoke with Ms. Martin. She said that they were planning to start scanning again around noon."

“Ms. Martin completed the recount upload and provided the Secretary of State’s office with the documentation from their Election Management System to back up their uploaded results."

Secretary of State’s Office press release

The Secretary of State’s office said it will investigate Coffee County for its recount procedures and ascertain if the case needs to be brought to the State Election Board for review and potential action.

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