RINGGOLD, Ga. (CN) — President-elect Joe Biden has flipped Georgia — the first Democratic presidential candidate to win the Peach State since 1992 — taking the final electoral prize of the 2020 campaign.
The projection Friday afternoon came as county poll workers began the work of manually retallying the presidential race ballot-by-ballot.
The Deep South state of Dahlonega gold, a robust film industry, Vidalia onions and peanuts is expected to narrowly go for Biden, as the difference between the former vice president and President Donald Trump is about 14,000 votes.
But even though major media outlets have called the race in Georgia, the task of reexamining the results is already underway.
Sitting before folding tables in the Election and Registration Center, six teams of poll workers began the audit in Catoosa County shortly before 9 a.m. Friday morning.
They will hand count every ballot – all 32,625 cast for the presidential race in the county – and they have until 11:59 p.m. Wednesday to complete the task.
It’s a scene that will be repeated thousands of times over the next few days: Passing the ballots between them, one poll worker said the name selected on the ballot and handed it to their other team member, who verbally acknowledged the name and placed it into one of several stacks of ballots on the table before them.
Eyes bent down on their task, the poll workers around the room counted: “Trump. Trump. Trump. Biden. Jorgensen.”
It’s a process playing out in all 159 counties in Georgia, where election officials began to recount the approximately 4.99 million votes cast in race for the White House.
On Wednesday, Veterans Day, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced the state would audit the close race by hand-counting all the ballots.
But Gabriel Sterling, the state’s voting system implementation manager, says don’t call it a recount – which is governed by a different Georgia statute – but rather a risk-limiting audit of the election that grew to a full-blown retally.
“This will be the largest hand retallying by audit in the history of the United States. We understand that it will be a heavy lift,” Sterling told reporters Thursday.
The goal is simple: to prove the voting system Georgia recently adopted statewide counted the ballots correctly, a trial of man versus machine.
Typically, Raffensperger’s office would take a sample of ballots from one particular race and hand count them to ensure the machines were performing as they should. The closer the race, the larger the sample. To accurately audit the presidential race, workers would typically have to pull a quarter of all ballots cast – about 1.3 million, Sterling said. Logistically, it was easier for state election officials to order the full retally.
Republican Congressman Doug Collins, who is leading the Trump campaign’s involvement in the retally, told reporters during a call Wednesday the state’s retally allows the campaign to look into further concerns it has about voting in Georgia.
Officials with the Trump campaign said their goal of chipping away at the lead Biden amassed in the typically red-leaning state would take patience. The campaign eventually wants to question signature matching and alleged ballot harvesting in the Peach State, but the retally was a first step.
"This is a victory for integrity; this is a victory for transparency," Collins said.
In fundraising emails about contesting the outcome of the election – whose proceeds for donations under $8,000 are not going to that purpose -- the campaign said it hopes the recount will uncover ballots that were “improperly harvested.”
But according to Sterling, there will be no opportunity for poll watchers to challenge the retally.