STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Election workers in Georgia spent the weekend counting ballots by hand. It's part of a statewide audit and recount. Joe Biden leads by about 14,000 votes, a far larger margin than recounts typically change. Here's Emil Moffatt of WABE.
EMIL MOFFATT, BYLINE: Inside a large exhibit hall on the fairgrounds in Cobb County, Ga., workers sit two to a table with mail trays in front of them, each marked with the name of a presidential candidate. A supervisor calls out final instructions as a box of ballots is delivered to each table.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: There's a date and a name, and then there's a scanner letter.
MOFFATT: The workers' job is to sort and tally each and every ballot. This complete hand recount of nearly 5 million ballots is part of a statewide audit. Cobb County Elections Director Janine Eveler says the audit forced her to bring back many of the temporary workers who thought they were done with this election.
JANINE EVELER: You know, they worked Election Day, and then they've been resting. So they're back to help us with reinforcements. But many of my staff have been working long, long hours every day of the weekend.
MOFFATT: There's been very little rest for workers in DeKalb County, too, where they also spent the weekend counting hundreds of thousands of ballots by hand. The elections director there, Erica Hamilton, expects the audit to confirm what ballot scanners found the first time - President-elect Joe Biden with a 14,000-vote lead in Georgia.
ERICA HAMILTON: I don't think there'll be any change. I think the machines are going to do what we did with the recount.
MOFFATT: Verifying this closely watched count is one reason Georgia Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger chose the presidential race to audit, even though Biden has already reached 270 electoral votes without the state.
(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)
BRAD RAFFENSPERGER: And at the end of the day, when we do a hand count, then we can answer the question - exactly, what was the final margin in this race?
MOFFATT: And while the audit may provide that answer, it also comes with an unexpected cost to counties who've already had to shell out extra for personal protective equipment for poll workers and absentee ballot drop boxes. DeKalb County predicts the audit will run them about $180,.000 Todd Edwards is with ACCG, an association that represents Georgia counties.
TODD EDWARDS: I'm sure if there's a possibility for the state to provide more funding, they will. However, we all know it's going to be a tough budget year for them, so we'll just continue to work.
MOFFATT: The Georgia secretary of state's office says it's looking into federal grant dollars to help offset some of the cost of the audit. Counties need to finish the tally by Wednesday night. For NPR News, I'm Emil Moffatt in Atlanta.
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