Georgia vote count continues as state edges near final count

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ATLANTA (AP) – As partisans celebrated and protested Democrat Joe Biden‘s victory Saturday, some Georgia counties inched toward a final count of ballots in the state elections.

Biden continued to narrowly lead President Donald Trump in the contest for Georgia’s 16 electoral votes after edging ahead early Friday as mail ballots were counted. The Associated Press declared Biden the nationwide winner Saturday, but has not called a winner in Georgia.

Fulton County on Saturday began re-scanning some votes first counted Friday. The county had discovered “an issue” according to a Facebook post from Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. A county spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to a text message seeking more information.

At Freedom Park in Atlanta, a “Voters Decided” rally led by liberal-leaning voting rights groups broke out into a dance party over news of Biden‘s victory. Dawn Dalton, 49, drove from Athens to the Atlanta celebration.

She was holding a sign that read “We the people have decided … You’re fired,” echoing Trump’s famous line on “The Apprentice.”

“I would have driven to D.C.,” Dalton said. “I would have gone to the ends of the earth. We’re defending democracy. It’s just a laundry list of what this guy has done.”

More than 100 people gathered in midtown Atlanta where a rainbow crosswalk marks the heart of the city’s LGBTQ neighborhood. Some banged pots and pans together as passing cars honked.

Kristin Felder, 36, is a Black woman who found out Biden won from a woman to whom she was delivering food.

“I literally started crying because it’s triumph for people who took their last breaths. This is what it’s all for,” Felder said. “I had to do another delivery, but I canceled it because I had to be out here with these people. We turned over states that were red. It’s time to celebrate!”

But at the state Capitol, hundreds of Trump supporters rallied to allege the election has been stolen from their candidate. They chanted “Four more years!” as flag-bearing trucks circled and congresswoman-elect Marjorie Taylor Greene spoke.

“I will not stop fighting for President Trump, I support him 100%,” said Greene, who has espoused unfounded QAnon conspiracy theories. Trump has called Greene a “future Republican star.” QAnon baselessly asserts that Trump is quietly waging a battle against pedophiles in government.

Saturday, Greene repeated comments that other Republicans weren’t doing enough to stand up for Trump and claimed that Biden‘s lead in Georgia is illegitimate, although no substantiated allegations of fraud have come to light.

“This is not a blue state,” Greene said. “It is my opinion that they are stealing this election.”

Many of those who were attending the rally echoed Greene’s concerns about fraud. But some said they remain open to accepting Biden as the legitimate president.

Jordan Kelley, a 29-year-old, drove to the demonstration from Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Kelley, who describes himself as an “avid Republican,” said he could accept the Democrat if he believes Biden’s victory is legitimate.

“If Biden actually does win the election, I’ll support and honor his presidency,” Kelley said.

Jill Tanner, a 50-year-old Atlanta resident who supports Trump’s immigration policies, said that if Biden becomes president she will “get up and go to work and live the American dream.”

“If Biden is in fact declared president, I don’t plan to riot or do anything,” Tanner said. “For me, it would just be like any other day.”

State officials did not have an updated count Saturday of how many provisional or military ballots are outstanding, said Walter Jones, a spokesman for Raffensperger. The Republican has said he expects a candidate will request a recount of Georgia’s ballots, as candidates can do when they are less than 0.5% behind after all ballots are counted. The state had already made plans to audit one of the statewide races to ensure that the new voting machines have produced an accurate count.

Friday was the deadline for voters to fix problems with flawed absentee or provisional ballots, as well as the deadline for ballots to arrive from overseas. By Saturday, 37 of Georgia’s 159 counties had submitted certified, final results.

There’s more voting yet to come in Georgia with two U.S. Senate runoffs set for Jan. 5. Republican U.S. Sen. David Perdue and Democrat Jon Ossoff meet again for Perdue’s Senate seat after Libertarian candidate Shane Hazel won enough votes so that neither Perdue nor Ossoff could clear the 50% threshold needed for victory.

Democrat Raphael Warnock faces Republican U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler in a second runoff trying to win the remaining two years of another Senate term. Gov. Brian Kemp appointed Loeffler to succeed retiring Republican Johnny Isakson earlier this year.

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Associated Press editor R.J. Rico contributed to this story.

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