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Blog | Joe Biden's Georgia lead widens to more than 12,000

This was a live blog from Monday, Nov. 9.

ATLANTA — Below is an archive of our Election Updates Blog from Monday, November 9. To see Monday's blog, click here


Joe Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 election by major news outlets over the weekend, and for the most part, the country's attention right now has moved beyond Georgia - but our state remains uncalled, and the process here for certifying results continues.

Small amounts of votes - mostly provisional ballots that had until Friday to be cleared by the voter - have continued to trickle in from various counties over the weekend. It hasn't changed the overall calculus by much, with Biden still leading the state.

Georgia & Atlanta Election Results

With a margin separating President-elect Biden and President Trump of less than half a percent, and a recount all but inevitable, an official result in Georgia may be out of grasp for some time. The state has also said it will conduct its own audit ahead of a recount.

Beyond that, voters are also starting to look ahead to deadlines for registering and requesting mail-in ballots for the Jan. 5 Senate runoff races - things promise to be very busy politically in Georgia through the holiday season.

SUNDAY'S BLOG: Trump campaign names Rep. Doug Collins to lead recount team in Georgia

SATURDAY'S BLOG: Fulton County rescans certain ballots 'out of an abundance of caution'


9:12 p.m. | An additional update with votes from DeKalb County has increased President-elect Joe Biden's lead in Georgia by 924 votes from the previous count. He now leads President Donald Trump by 12,338 votes.

8:28 p.m. | An evening update of Georgia vote totals in the presidential race shows President-elect Joe Biden with an 11,413 vote lead over President Donald Trump.

7:06 p.m. | Attorney General William Barr has authorized federal prosecutors across the U.S. to pursue what he describes as "substantial allegations" of voting irregularities. President-elect Joe Biden currently holds a sizable lead in multiple battlegrounds over his opponent, incumbent President Donald Trump.

Barr's note to U.S. attorneys, which was obtained by the Associated Press, says investigations "may be conducted if there are clear and apparently-credible allegations of irregularities that, if true, could potentially impact the outcome of a federal election in an individual State.”

However, 11Alive's Andy Pierrotti cautioned that there is no substantial evidence of massive voter fraud and that the authorization is something the Department of Justice has the authorization to do already.

Trump's campaign, meanwhile, has vowed to pursue a recount in Georgia where Biden's lead has continued to widen in recent days.

4:56 p.m. | The office of Governor Brian Kemp is urging the Secretary of State to "take a serious look at any and all voting irregularity allegations that have been made" pointing to the close outcome and the record number of mail-in absentee ballots cast so that Georgians can have "full confidence in the outcome of our elections."

At this point, no agency in the state has confirmed any cases of voter fraud so far.

4:15 p.m. |  Georgia’s Secretary of State is responding to calls by the state’s two U.S. senators to resign, saying it's up to the voters to decide if he leaves.

Secretary Brad Raffensperger defended the transparency of the election by pointing to twice-daily press conferences. He also said that his office has followed the letter of the law and investigated any possible cases of illegal voting. He pointed to Fulton County where he said a monitor had been brought in, describing it as “one of our longtime problem Democrat-run counties.”

Neither he nor other politicians have provided evidence of actual voter fraud in their statements.

Raffensperger openly shared that he, along with the senators is “unhappy with the potential outcome for our president.” However, he also suggests that it “is unlikely” that any illegal voting found and disqualified in the state would “rise to the number or margin necessary to change the outcome to where President Trump is given Georgia’s electoral votes.”

He further suggests that both senators Loeffler and Perdue focus on keeping their Senate seats and fixing federal laws he says are problematic in the voting process.

4:10 p.m. | The Ga. Sec. of State’s Office will announce Wednesday the general election will be audited by all 159 Georgia counties. Sec. of State Brad Raffensperger will oversee the random selection of ballots to be audited. Counties will then be told the ballots they must audit. 

4:04 p.m. | With updates from at least 20 counties, Biden's lead grows in Georgia to 11,569. 

3:21 p.m. | President Donald Trump tweeted that Georgia will be a "big presidential win."

3:09 p.m. | Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Sen. David Perdue just issued a statement demanding the resignation of Sec. Raffensperger, citing unspecified "failures" in election management and a "lack of transparency." 

The Secretary of State's Office has been holding daily press conferences on business days since Election Day, and has repeatedly said there have been no widespread irregularities

RELATED: Georgia Sec. State's Office says it's 'not seeing any widespread irregularities'

3:00 p.m. | Gov. Kemp tweeted a moment ago. It's important to note none of the state's officials, across a number of press briefings over the last week, have ever suggested any significant suspicion of ballots being cast illegally.

Gabriel Sterling in the Secretary of State's Office noted today that they expect to find some illegal votes, but that this happens in every election.

"Illegal voting is gonna happen," he said. "It's a minor part of this thing and we're putting every safeguard we can get to, to make sure it doesn't happen now or in the future."

2:20 p.m. | Also cleared up in the Secretary of State's Office press conference was the issue of "missing" military ballots, baselessly raised by President Trump on Friday in a tweet that appeared to misunderstand the distinction between outstanding ballots - as in, the number of ballots requested but not sent back yet - and the idea of actual ballots that could not be accounted for, which was not suggested at any point by Georgia officials.

1:50 p.m. | Since we last checked in, about a hundred votes have been registered into the state total. Joe Biden's lead decreased by 10 to 10,610. Total votes are at 4,984,395.

1:30 p.m. | Okay, the Fulton County issue. 

You might have seen this tweet on Saturday:

Here's how Gabriel Sterling, the Secretary of State's voting systems implementation manager, described what happened there:

The issue was, essentially, two separate issues, that resulted in their count being off by almost 500. And he noted the reason it became publicized is because the county released their count before the reconciliation process - basically, double-checking to make sure it was right.

When they did that, they found they were missing a few hundred provisional ballots.

Sterling explained 126 of those were provisional ballots that had been scanned as absentee ballots. 

Then there were 358 that had been damaged by the automatic opening machine. Those had to be effectively replicated with a voting machine by workers and then scanned. He said both Republican and Democrat monitors were there for this process, as well as monitors from the Secretary of State's Office.

Then they discovered they were seven ballots shy, and those ballots were found in a spoiled ballot bin.

Sterling indicated all of this could have been accounted for with the reconciliation process before the county's numbers were released.

"The problem we have is when people don't follow processes and procedures, it undermines people's faith in the overall outcomes," he said.

1:12 p.m. | The Secretary of State's website now shows 50 of the 159 counties have certified their election results.

1:05 p.m. | Sterling says they know they will find at least some people who voted illegally, and promises they will diligently investigate it, but that:

"We know the system counted properly. We know the ballots that were there were counted properly and correctly. We know that. We're gonna have an audit to prove it, and it looks like more than likely the president will ask for a recount to reaffirm that."

1:02 p.m. | Sterling addresses the increasingly notorious "Hammer and Scorecard" conspiracy - saying himself it "frankly doesn't make sense" and quoting a cybersecurity expert who characterized it as a "hoax" and "nonsense."

1:00 p.m. | Sterling addressed a weird issue that came up in Fulton County that we'll outline in a second, because it requires a bit of a dense explanation. But he also spoke about the idea of Georgia flipping "suddenly."

"Anybody who has been here is aware that none of this was sudden. We had a very close race for governor in 2018, we've had people getting elected as Democrats in Cobb and Gwinnett for years, none of it was surprising to pundits who track in Georgia," he said.

He also noted they found a lot of "ticket-splitting" - people who did not vote for President Trump, but did vote for down-ballot Republicans such as Sen. David Perdue or Sen. Kelly Loeffler.

12:52 p.m. | Sterling also touches on something we've reported on before - a viral video incident claiming to find ballots in a dumpster behind the Spalding County found envelopes, not ballots. He also cleared up a "double voting" piece of misinformation in Gwinnett County.

12:47 p.m. | It gets very technical, and would be hard for us to quickly regurgitate here with any clarity, but Sterling says an issue that popped up in Michigan that has been attributed to the same Dominion voting system we use here in Georgia was not a technical or software issue, but rather a cascading failure that was initiated through human error. The Michigan episode has been the subject of a number of viral claims online.

12:45 p.m. | Gabriel Sterling in the Secretary of State's Office is clearing up what he calls some items of misinformation.

12:15 p.m. | We're expecting to hear from the Secretary of State's Office in about 15 minutes.

11:50 a.m. | We're also now up to 47 counties with certified results, per the Secretary of State's latest update.

11:50 a.m. | Those Gwinnett County votes are now reflected in the official Secretary of State total: Joe Biden leads by 10,620, from 4,984,293 total votes.

11:50 a.m. | 11Alive's Joe Ripley with a breakdown of how the Gwinnett County provisional ballots were assessed:

11:40 a.m. | We know it's the question on everyone's mind, so we put together a little explainer: Here's what needs to happen for Georgia to finally have official election results.

11:15 a.m. | We're anticipating remarks from Joe Biden sometime after 11:30 a.m. He's expected to speak primarily about COVID-19.

11:10 a.m. | Here's Gwinnett County Board of Elections Chairman John Mangano speaking to Joe Ripley after the county certified their results a short while ago.

10:35 a.m. | 11Alive's Joe Ripley reports from Gwinnett County that they appear to have completed their counting and certified their results; say "let’s do it again" looking ahead to recount and runoffs.

10:30 a.m. | The Secretary of State's Office just said Sec. Brad Raffensperger would be holding a press conference this afternoon at 12:30 p.m.

10:06 a.m. | Sen. Kelly Loeffler's office just announced Florida Sen. Marco Rubio will travel to Cobb County on Wednesday to hold a rally in support of Sen. Loeffler and Sen. David Perdue in their re-election bids, which are headed to runoff races on Jan. 5.

10:05 a.m. | Tattnall coming through:

10:00 a.m. | A lot of these updates today will be the final provisionals coming in from counties around the state, with the idea that many will be trying to certify their final results today. They have a deadline to certify their results to the state by Friday, and so far 37 of 159 counties have certified.

9:40 a.m. | Some votes registered into the total from Bibb County.

9:35 a.m. | A meeting of the Gwinnett County Board of Elections convened a few minutes ago. 11Alive's Joe Ripley was told it could take "several hours" to go through the 965 provisional ballots that remain to be sorted there.

9:25 a.m. | We have an update!

9:20 a.m. | Stacey Abrams says $6 million has already been raised to help Democrats Rev. Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff in their respective Senate runoffs against Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Sen. David Perdue.

With the two Jan. 5 runoffs set to decide the balance of the Senate, analysts are expecting these to quickly become two of the most expensive races in history.

8:55 a.m. | Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan tells CNN he hasn't seen "any sort of credible examples" of election fraud.

8:45 a.m. | You may have seen some encouragement online to Georgia 17-year-olds to register to vote in the Senate runoffs if they'll be 18 by the time Jan. 5 rolls around.

It's true, anyone who will turn 18 by then is eligible to register and vote in those elections.

8:25 a.m. | We've been told by the Secretary of State's Office not to expect a press briefing today. Which makes some sense, there's not much left to count, and nothing really for the state to do until the Friday deadline arrives for counties to certify their results.

8:20 a.m. | To give you a sense of how close we are to the count being completely finished, 11Alive's Shiba Russell notes that while we're waiting for a last few provisional votes to be tallied in Gwinnett County today, nothing else has come across to change the totals since yesterday afternoon. 

8:00 a.m. | By the way, if you can believe it, there's more voting to be done in Atlanta beginning today.

Starting today, if you live in Georgia's 5th District, you can participate in early voting for the runoff in the special election to fill John Lewis' seat.

That seat will be filled by Democrat Nikema Williams once she's sworn in as a U.S. representative in January, after she won the November general election, but until then the seat is vacant - as it has been since Lewis' death this summer.

Gov. Kemp called a special election to temporarily fill it for late September, but no candidate reached the 50% + 1 threshold to avoid a runoff. The two candidates who will look to fill the seat for about a month are former Morehouse College President Robert Franklin and former Atlanta Councilman Kwanza Hall.

7:35 a.m. | This just in from Jon Ossoff's Senate campaign: He's challenging Sen. David Perdue to three televised debates ahead of the Jan. 5 runoff election.

He issued the challenge in a letter you can read here.

7:20 a.m. | Did you know your voting record is public? Not who you voted for, but whether you did or did not vote?

11Alive's Why Guy Jerry Carnes had an explanation this morning, in case you missed it:

6:50 a.m. | On the matter of the Senate race, 11Alive's Christie Diez lays out the important basics for voters ahead of the Jan. 5 runoffs:

6:30 a.m. | A reminder why provisional ballots take longer to count: They're used by voters who wind up with an issue when they go to vote - most commonly, either they forgot their ID or went to the wrong voting site. They then get three days to fix the issue with the county office to make sure their vote counts, and that deadline was last Friday.

After that, it's a matter of sorting through which ballots were cleared and which ones will end up invalid, and then processing and reporting those votes to the state.  

6:15 a.m. | If you're looking for where more votes will still come in today, look to provisional ballots out of Gwinnett County - there's close to a thousand they still have to go through.

6:05 a.m. | The Biden-Harris transition team announced a COVID-19 advisory board that includes at least one expert with extensive Atlanta ties.

Dr. Rick Bright earned his Ph.D in immunology from Emory in 2002, and spent two separate stretches in the late 90s and early 00s at the CDC in Atlanta. 

He was noted as an early whistleblower on the severity of the pandemic inside the Trump administration, where he was an official in the Department of Health and Human Services.

5:45 a.m. | So here's the state of play as a new week dawns: A very small amount of votes continued to be registered into the statewide total over the weekend, bringing President-elect Joe Biden's lead to 10,353.

The total number of statewide votes cast stands at 4,983,103.

But the real number to watch now is the number of counties certifying their results to the state: They have a Friday deadline to do so, and a recount can't begin in Georgia until they've finished that process and the state certifies its results. (The Secretary of State also said over the weekend his office would be conducting its own audit ahead of a recount.)

Right now, the number of counties with certified results stands at 37 out of 159.

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