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'We can't wait': Macon-Bibb BOE prepares for Senate runoffs after audit, amid recount

Source: WGXA News{p}{/p}
Source: WGXA News

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MACON, Ga. -- Local election boards across Georgia have been through a lot in the last three weeks with an audit and now preparing for a recount requested by President Donald Trump.

But how are the added resources and time for the presidential election affecting preparation for the state's two Senate runoffs in January?

Mike Kaplan, Chairman of the Macon-Bibb Board of Elections, says the audit took up a lot of time, which will most likely be the same for the recount.

"Right now we are just getting ready for the election, and getting ready for the recount. So there's a lot going on at the board of elections right now."

Although it's taken up time, Kaplan tells WGXA there hasn't been a huge impact on the preparations for the Senate runoffs.

He explains the teams that are working on the recount aren't the same people taking part in the early preparations for the runoffs.

"We can't wait," says Kaplan. "We are already preparing."

Absentee ballots for the January runoff are already being mailed out. Kaplan says absentee votes should start coming back soon, and the processing of those ballots will begin.

The BOE staff is also preparing voting machines to be sent to early voting precincts. Kaplan says there are some questions about early voting as several holidays fall in the early voting time frame.

They are waiting for directions from the state regarding those holidays and how to staff the precincts if early voting takes place during those holidays.

The BOE is also waiting on instructions from the state regarding the recount.

As of Monday morning, Kaplan says they had yet to be given direction from the state on how the recount will be conducted, whether that means rescanning all the votes or using a mixture of memory cards and scanning for absentee ballots.

He explains, "If we have to scan every ballot, then that's obviously going to take longer than using the memory cards and just scanning absentee ballots."

Kaplan tells WGXA as soon as they receive word on what needs to be done, their staff will start, but the recount could take anywhere from a day to several days depending on what they are asked to do.

With Thanksgiving also playing a role this week, that could potentially lengthen the time of the recount. "The recount will take a lot of time and effort but we will be ready," he says.

Kaplan reflects on this past year and the delays the BOE has overcome due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We were supposed to start in May. It got delayed to June, then got delayed to July. We had the big election in July and had another runoff in August. Then we had this thing happen in November, so we've been at it constantly since about May."

Although there have been struggles, he assures that the Macon-Bibb Board of Elections will be prepared for the runoffs come December 14 when early voting begins.

Early voting for Georgia's two Senate runoffs as well as Georgia's Public Services Commission seat ends December 28. Check here for information on early voting polling stations, Election Day polling locations, and requesting an absentee ballot.

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"We have to get it right. The world is watching and I promise you we will get it right here in Macon-Bibb."

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