2019 Georgia Code
Title 21 - Elections
Chapter 2 - Elections and Primaries Generally
Article 12 - Returns
§ 21-2-493. Computation, canvassing, and tabulation of returns; investigation of discrepancies in vote counts; recount procedure; certification of returns; change in returns
(a) The superintendent shall, at or before 12:00 Noon on the day following the primary or election, at his or her office or at some other convenient public place at the county seat or in the municipality, of which due notice shall have been given as provided by Code Section 21-2-492, publicly commence the computation and canvassing of the returns and continue the same from day to day until completed. For this purpose the superintendent may organize his or her assistants into sections, each of which may simultaneously proceed with the computation and canvassing of the returns from various precincts of the county or municipality in the manner provided by this Code section. Upon the completion of such computation and canvassing, the superintendent shall tabulate the figures for the entire county or municipality and sign, announce, and attest the same, as required by this Code section.
(b) The superintendent, before computing the votes cast in any precinct, shall compare the registration figure with the certificates returned by the poll officers showing the number of persons who voted in each precinct or the number of ballots cast. If, upon consideration by the superintendent of the returns and certificates before him or her from any precinct, it shall appear that the total vote returned for any candidate or candidates for the same office or nomination or on any question exceeds the number of electors in such precinct or exceeds the total number of persons who voted in such precinct or the total number of ballots cast therein, such excess shall be deemed a discrepancy and palpable error and shall be investigated by the superintendent; and no votes shall be recorded from such precinct until an investigation shall be had. Such excess shall authorize the summoning of the poll officers to appear immediately with any primary or election papers in their possession. The superintendent shall then examine all the registration and primary or election documents whatever relating to such precinct in the presence of representatives of each party, body, and interested candidate. Such examination may, if the superintendent deems it necessary, include a recount or recanvass of the votes of that precinct and a report of the facts of the case to the district attorney where such action appears to be warranted.
(c) In precincts in which paper ballots have been used, the superintendent may require the production of the ballot box and the recount of the ballots contained in such ballot box, either generally or respecting the particular office, nomination, or question as to which the excess exists, in the discretion of the superintendent, and may require the correction of the returns in accordance with the result of such recount. If the ballot box is found to contain more ballots than there are electors registered in such precinct or more ballots than the number of voters who voted in such precinct at such primary or election, the superintendent may, in his or her discretion, exclude the poll of that precinct, either as to all offices, candidates, questions, or parties and bodies or as to any particular offices, candidates, questions, or parties and bodies, as to which such excess exists.
(d) In precincts in which voting machines have been used, the superintendent may require a recanvass of the votes recorded on the machines used in the precinct, as provided in Code Section 21-2-495.
(e) In precincts in which paper ballots have been used, the general returns made by the poll officers from the various precincts shall be read one after another in the usual order, slowly and audibly, by one of the assistants who shall, in each case of a return from a precinct in which ballots were used, read therefrom the number of ballots issued, spoiled, canceled, and cast, respectively, whereupon the assistant having charge of the records of the superintendent showing the number of ballots furnished for each precinct, including the number of stubs and unused ballots and spoiled and canceled ballots returned, shall publicly announce the number of the same respectively; and, unless it appears by such number or calculations therefrom that such records and such general return correspond, no further returns shall be read from the latter until all discrepancies are explained to the satisfaction of the superintendent.
(f) In precincts in which voting machines have been used, there shall be read from the general return the identifying number or other designation of each voting machine used and the numbers registered on the protective counter or device on each machine prior to the opening of the polls and immediately after the close of the same, whereupon the assistant having charge of the records of the superintendent showing the number registered on the protective counter or device of each voting machine prior to delivery at the polling place shall publicly announce the numbers so registered; and, unless it appears that such records and such general return correspond, no further returns shall be read from the latter until any and all discrepancies are explained to the satisfaction of the superintendent.
(g) In precincts in which paper ballots have been used, when the records agree with such returns regarding the number of ballots and the number of votes recorded for each candidate, such votes for each candidate shall be read by an assistant slowly, audibly, and in an orderly manner from the general return which has been returned unsealed; and the figures announced shall be compared by other assistants with the general return which has been returned sealed. The figures announced for all precincts shall be compared by one of the assistants with the tally papers from the respective precincts. If any discrepancies are discovered, the superintendent shall examine all of the return sheets, tally papers, and other papers in his or her possession relating to the same precinct. If the tally papers and sealed general return sheet agree, the unsealed general return shall be immediately corrected to conform thereto. In every other case the superintendent shall immediately cause the ballot box of the precinct to be opened and the vote therein to be recounted in the presence of interested candidates or their representatives; and, if the recount shall not be sufficient to correct the error, the superintendent may summon the poll officers to appear immediately with all election papers in their possession.
(h) In precincts in which voting machines have been used, when the records agree with the returns regarding the number registered on the voting machine, the votes recorded for each candidate shall be read by an assistant slowly, audibly, and in an orderly manner from the general return sheet which has been returned unsealed; and the figures announced shall be compared by other assistants with the duplicate return sheet which has been returned sealed. If the voting machine is of the type equipped with a mechanism for printing paper proof sheets, such general and duplicate return sheets shall also be compared with such proof sheets, which have been returned as aforesaid. If any discrepancies are discovered, the superintendent shall examine all of the return sheets, proof sheets, and other papers in his or her possession relating to the same precinct. Such proof sheets shall be deemed to be prima-facie evidence of the result of the primary or election and to be prima facie accurate; and, if the proper proof sheets, properly identified, shall be mutually consistent and if the general and duplicate returns or either of such returns from such precinct shall not correspond with such proof sheets, they shall be corrected so as to correspond with such proof sheets in the absence of allegation of specific fraud or error proved to the satisfaction of the superintendent.
(i) If any error or fraud is discovered, the superintendent shall compute and certify the votes justly, regardless of any fraudulent or erroneous returns presented to him or her, and shall report the facts to the appropriate district attorney for action.
(j) The superintendent shall see that the votes shown by each absentee ballot are added to the return received from the precinct of the elector casting such ballot.
(k) As the returns from each precinct are read, computed, and found to be correct or corrected as aforesaid, they shall be recorded on the blanks prepared for the purpose until all the returns from the various precincts which are entitled to be counted shall have been duly recorded; then they shall be added together, announced, and attested by the assistants who made and computed the entries respectively and shall be signed by the superintendent. The consolidated returns shall then be certified by the superintendent in the manner required by this chapter. Such returns shall be certified by the superintendent not later than 5:00 P.M. on the second Friday following the date on which such election was held and such returns shall be immediately transmitted to the Secretary of State; provided, however, that such certification date may be extended by the Secretary of State in his or her discretion if necessary to complete a precertification audit as provided in Code Section 21-2-498.
(l) In such case where the results of an election contest change the returns so certified, a corrected return shall be certified and filed by the superintendent which makes such corrections as the court orders.
Ga. L. 1943, p. 347, § 1; Code 1933, § 34-1504, enacted by Ga. L. 1964, Ex. Sess., p. 26, § 1; Ga. L. 1969, p. 292, § 1; Ga. L. 1970, p. 347, § 29; Ga. L. 1982, p. 1512, § 5; Ga. L. 1983, p. 140, § 1; Ga. L. 1987, p. 34, § 1; Ga. L. 1992, p. 1, § 5; Ga. L. 1992, p. 56, § 1; Ga. L. 1997, p. 590, § 37; Ga. L. 1998, p. 295, § 1; Ga. L. 2001, p. 269, § 25; Ga. L. 2003, p. 517, § 55; Ga. L. 2008, p. 817, § 4/HB 1098; Ga. L. 2011, p. 683, § 18/SB 82; Ga. L. 2019, p. 7, § 40/HB 316.