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Georgia recount: Voting machines audit finds no hack

Georgia recount: Voting machines audit finds no hack
Georgia's recount process discovered more than 2,400 votes that weren't counted in Floyd County due to an optical scanner error. Photo by Tami Chappell/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 17 (UPI) -- Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said Tuesday an audit of the state's voting machines found no evidence of tampering.

Raffensperger said in a statement announcing the completion of the audit that there was "no sign of foul play."

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He ordered Pro V&V, a U.S. Election Assistance Commission-certified testing laboratory, to conduct the audit on a random sample of Dominion Voting Systems machines statewide, which used forensic techniques and verification processes to confirm no tampering, cyberattacks or election hacking.

"Pro V&V found no evidence of the machines being tampered," the secretary of state's office said.

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"We are glad but not surprised that the audit of the state's voting machines was an unqualified success," Raffensperger said in a statement. "Election security has been a top priority since day one of may administration. We have partnered with the Department of Homeland Security, the Georgia Cyber Center, Georgia Tech security experts, and wide range of other election security experts around the state and country so Georgia voters can be confident that their vote is safe and secure."

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President-Elect Joe Biden led incumbent President Donald Trump by more than 14,000 votes in Georgia after the Nov. 3 election, leading to projections that he will win Georgia's 16 electoral votes. However, Biden's lead was within a 0.5% margin of Trump, triggering a recount under state law upon request.

A statewide risk-limiting audit prompting a full hand recount of nearly 5 million votes in Georgia's 159 counties began Friday with a deadline to finish by midnight Wednesday.

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Under state law, after the hand recount is complete, the secretary of state's office will certify the statewide election results by Friday.

Trump and some Republican allies made baseless allegations about Dominion Voting Systems, leading to the audit.

Georgia is holding two U.S. Senate runoff elections Jan. 5, after none of the candidates reached the 50% threshold on Nov. 3 to win the election outright. The outcomes will be key to U.S. Senate control.

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Since the Nov. 3 election, Raffensperger, who identifies as a Republican, has faced pressure from the two Republican incumbent senators going into the runoff, Sens. Kelly Loeffler an David Perdue, to resign.

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Raffensperger said that he and his wife, Tricia, also received death threats in recent days.

The Georgia secretary of state said Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., also asked if he could toss all mail ballots in certain counties that have higher signature mismatches, appearing to suggest he toss legal ballots.

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Graham denied that he made such a suggestion, calling it "ridiculous."

On Tuesday, Raffensperger warned against activist groups helping to finance or organize efforts to move individuals to Georgia solely for the purpose of voting in the Georgia runoffs. He said they could be prosecuted for conspiracy to commit voter fraud under Georgia's Racketeering Conspiracy laws.

"Make no mistake about it, I will seek to prosecute those who try to undermine our elections to the fullest extent of the law," Raffensperger said in a statement.

A recount Monday in Floyd County, located in northwest Georgia, found more than 2,600 ballots that hadn't been tallied in the original count, allowing Trump to gain nearly 800 votes with 1,643 of the new votes for Trump and 865 for Biden.

Failure to upload votes from a memory card into a ballot scanning machine caused the problem, said Gabriel Sterling, the state's voting system manager.

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"It's not an equipment issue," Sterling said. "It's a person not executing their job properly."

Sterling added that the county's election director should resign.

Floyd County Republican Party Chairman Luke Martin said the issue occurred during in-person early voting after an optical scanner stopped working. County election officials were supposed to rescan the ballots, but about half of them weren't recorded.

"It's very concerning," Martin said. "But this doesn't appear to be a widespread issue. I'm glad the audit revealed it, and it's important that all votes are counted."

The issue in Floyd County narrows Biden's lead to 13,378 votes, but Raffensperger said that other counties' figures have closely matched the original numbers.

U.S. Election 2020

Balloons and signs fill the fence between Black Lives Matter Plaza and Lafayette Park near the White House on Monday. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

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