Election 2020 Georgia

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger speaks during a news conference on Wednesday, Nov. 11, 2020, in Atlanta.

(The Center Square) – The Coffee County Board of Elections and Registration is under investigation for how it handled the presidential election recount in Georgia.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger's office said it opened an investigation into Coffee County after it missed the Dec. 2 deadline for Georgia counties to complete the recount and a series of events that followed.

The statewide recount was done at the request of President Donald Trump's campaign after the initial count and a hand recount and audit of the more than 5 million ballots cast in the race showed presumptive President-Elect Joe Biden beat Trump by more than 12,000 votes.

The second recount showed Biden won Georgia by more than 11,000 votes, and Georgia recertified its election results Monday after Coffee County finally certified its recount result, five days after the state's deadline.

The secretary of state's office said Coffee County was working with the state and Dominion Voting Systems on Dec. 3 – the day after recount totals were due – because of a discrepancy of 50 votes.

By Friday, Coffee County was the lone Georgia County to not complete the recount and the Coffee County’s Board of Elections sent the secretary of state's office a letter that said it was not going to certify its recount, opting to certify the results in its election night report instead.

"The Coffee County Board of Elections and Registration cannot certify the electronic recount numbers given its inability to repeatably duplicate creditable election results," the letter read. "Any system, financial, voting, or otherwise, that is not repeatable nor dependable should not be used. To demand certification of patently inaccurate results neither serves the objective of the electoral system nor satisfies the legal obligation to certify the electronic recount."

State elections officials said Coffee County Elections Director Misty Martin told them Friday the hand recount and audit showed the county was off by one vote from the original count, but after the electronic recount, Coffee County’s tally was off by 51 votes.

Coffee County’s tally showed two 50-batch uploads, and the secretary of state's office said it was apparent Martin was unsure whether she had scanned a batch of 50 ballots twice, which would account for the 50-vote discrepancy. Martin also revealed the county had comingled early voting ballots and Election Day ballots.

State elections officials said they told Martin she had to resolve the recount and recertify the results. By Friday afternoon, Martin said she was scanning ballots, but the scanner was stopping intermittently. Dominion sent a technician to help, but Martin was sent home for the weekend by the county's election board, state officials said.

After planning to start rescanning about noon Monday, state officials said they told Martin on Monday morning she had to complete the recount immediately.

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, state officials said.

"The Secretary of State’s office will investigate Coffee County for their recount procedures and ascertain if the case needs to be brought to the State Election Board for review and potential action," Raffensperger's office said Wednesday night in a news release announcing the investigation.

Managing Editor

Jason Schaumburg is an award-winning, veteran editor who has been a journalist for more than 20 years. He spent a decade as the top editor in three northern Illinois newsrooms for Shaw Media and Pioneer Press.