Very few issues plagued last week’s general election, but the Glynn County Board of Elections is getting little rest.
After counting the final provisional ballots on Friday, the board is gearing up for an election audit, a likely recount of the 2020 presidential election and two runoffs.
Election and Registration Supervisor Chris Channell said the board also is on the lookout for potential fraud. He’s aware of concerns about people entering from out of the state and registering before the Dec. 7 deadline to illegally vote in the Jan. 5, 2021, U.S. Senate runoff.
State law requires someone to live in the county in which they’re voting, but it does not require anyone to present proof of residency when registering to vote.
Channell said the board is limited by law in how it can deal with people who might attempt to do so.
“We’ll be able to tie that registration to a person, and if at a later time it’s determined that individual is not illegally registered in Glynn County, there’s a paper trail,” Channell said.
Christina Redden, assistant elections and registration supervisor, encouraged anyone who is concerned about the issue to contact their state representative about changing the law.
The January U.S. Senate runoff is not the only one this year, however. A state Public Safety Commission race must also be decided by runoff, this one scheduled for Dec. 1. Early voting in the December runoff will begin next Wednesday.
While preparing for the runoffs, elections officials must also handle an audit of the 2020 general election.
Glynn County officials certified the results of the general election last week and plan to begin a risk-limiting audit, or RLA, on Thursday morning. With a large enough representative sample of votes, an RLA can give high levels of confidence in the outcome of a given race. The higher the sample, the more accurate the audit.
In a statement last week, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said the state is aiming for a confidence level of over 90 percent.
The technique was refined and marketed to states by VotingWorks, a nonprofit focused on improving election security and efficiency.
“Risk-limiting audits are going to confirm the outcome,” Ben Adida, VotingWorks executive director, said during a Tuesday press briefing. “Most elections go well and most issues don’t amount to anything that would change the winner.”
It can also reveal problems in the rest of the election process, he explained. It’s not like an IRS financial audit, Adida added, which are usually prompted by some error or illegality.
“The point of an RLA is exactly the opposite of that. We should do this as part of the hygiene in a good election process,” Adida said.
Ideally, Channell said the local board of elections would start the recount on Monday. The results of the statewide recount may not be available until the end of November, officials with the Secretary of State’s Office have said.
While the final tally in the presidential race might be close enough to warrant a recount, Glynn County leaned heavily Republican.
According to unofficial results from the Glynn County Board of Elections, 42,202 Glynn residents voted in the election, 68 percent of the county’s 61,952 registered voters.
In the race for president, Republican incumbent Donald Trump garnered 61 percent, or 25,616 votes, to Democratic candidate Joe Biden’s 38 percent, or 15,879 votes, according to uncertified figures from the board of elections.
Jo Jorgensen, a Libertarian, accrued 489 votes in the Golden Isles, or about 1 percent of the total.
A little over 200 voters did not make a choice in the race.
By area, around 36,682 people are registered to vote in the unincorporated areas of Glynn County, 9,327 in the city of Brunswick, 15,171 on St. Simons Island and 774 on Jekyll Island.
Of those, 23,935 county residents cast a ballot, 5,035 in Brunswick, 12,548 on St. Simons Island and 626 on Jekyll Island.
Early voting, both in-person and by mail, accounted for the overwhelming majority of all ballots. According to the unofficial figures, 35,098 voted before election day.
At the county’s three early voting locations, 24,797 cast their ballots while 10,301 voted by mail.
Trump held a strong lead everywhere but Brunswick. Among voters assigned to a precinct in the city limits, Trump received only 1,379 votes to Biden’s 3,553.
Conversely, in the unincorporated mainland, the incumbent took 15,402 votes to his challenger’s 8,155. St. Simons Island followed the trend, contributing 8,459 votes for Trump and 3,872 for Biden. On Jekyll, 341 voted Republican and 277 Democrat in the presidential race.
Republicans and Democrats were not the only ones taking part in the election. Jorgensen received 265 ballots from mainland voters, 91 in Brunswick, 128 on St. Simons Island and four on Jekyll Island.
Little changed in other federal races. U.S. Sen. David Perdue handily won a majority in Glynn County by pulling in 25,560 votes, close to 62 percent of the votes cast in the race. Jon Ossoff, the Democratic candidate for the seat, claimed 36 percent or 14,938 votes, and Libertarian Shane Hazel ended the night with just over 2 percent or 970 votes.
A very crowded U.S. Senate special election featuring more than 20 candidates also went more in Republicans’ favor than it did statewide. Democratic frontrunner Raphael Warnock took the lead, although not by enough to avoid a runoff, while Republicans Kelly Loeffler and Doug Collins trailed. Loeffler and Warnock made it to the runoff, which will be held in January.
In Glynn County, however, Loeffler took the lead with 29 percent of the vote or 11,810. Collins came in a close second at 25 percent or 10,293 votes. In third was Warnock, with 7,272 votes or 18 percent of the votes.
No other candidate took more than 8 percent of the votes in the race.