The gap between President Donald Trump and Joe Biden remains extremely narrow in Georgia even on “election night”, which is now experiencing its third full day. Biden took the lead in the surprising Swing State early Friday morning with just over 1,000 votes, but this is likely to change in the coming days as military votes, provisional ballots and the few remaining absentee ballots are added.
Gabriel Sterling, who oversees Georgia’s nationwide voting system, gave an update on the numbers at a press conference on Friday at 15:00 ET.
He said that 8,410 outstanding absentee ballots from military personnel or other Georgians living abroad are still available for receipt and counting. These ballots must be stamped by November 3, but must be received at the district election office by 5 p.m. ET on Friday.
“There will be more than zero and less than 8,410 votes. It will be somewhere in that range. We don’t really know how many,” Sterling said, adding that the outstanding military votes come from counties across the state.
Sterling said at an earlier press conference on Friday that only 4,169 absentee ballots remain to be counted in the state, in addition to those coming from overseas. This number had not changed significantly from the morning report, he said on Friday afternoon.
The outstanding absentee ballots – not including military and overseas ballots – remained in Cherokee, Cobb, Floyd and Gwinnett counties, he said. Biden is the leader in Cobb and Gwinnett Counties, both suburbs of Atlanta. The majority of the outstanding ballots (about 3,500) will come from Gwinnett and are expected to favor Biden. Trump leads by a clear margin in Cherokee and Floyd Counties, but according to WSB-TV, the total number of ballots there is estimated to be only 225.
In addition, almost 9,000 provisional ballots still have to be checked, Sterling said on Friday afternoon. Only 134 of Georgia’s 159 districts had reported their number of provisional ballots at that time, meaning that the number was still a moving target, he said.
Sterling noted that election officials “are trying to complete everything by the end of Friday,” but that the tabulation could extend into Saturday.
“Each and every one of these votes is important, and the job of the election officials and this office is to make sure that every single legal vote is counted and that the will of the voters of the State of Georgia is fulfilled in this very, very important election,” Sterling said.
The number of outstanding ballots to be counted in the state may seem small, but each vote will undoubtedly prove decisive in declaring a winner. Biden’s lead over Trump increased by a tiny 1,557 votes in Georgia on Friday morning, suggesting that the state is still within reach for both candidates.
In fact, the gap is so small that Georgian Foreign Minister Brad Raffensperger said on Friday morning that a recount is already expected.
“At the moment Georgia is still too close to decide. From about 5 million votes cast, we will have a margin of a few thousand,” he said. “With such a small margin, there will be a recount in Georgia.
Sterling joined Raffensperger in offering a metaphor to further emphasize the closeness of the race. “When you have a narrow margin, little things can make a difference,” he said. “So everything must be investigated to protect the integrity of the vote…. We literally have a margin of less than, you know, a big high school”.
With the upcoming absence, military and provisional ballots – also known as “universal votes” – it is expected that Biden’s leadership will change.
“Yes, Biden is ahead with 1,585 votes. But that could change in the coming days, given the universal votes that exist,” Sterling said. “He could extend his lead, he could stay the same, or President Trump could return to the top. There is still time, and the general votes could make that possible.
According to the Associated Press, Biden currently holds the majority of the popular and electoral votes with 73.76 million and 264 votes respectively. Trump has 214 votes and 69.8 million popular votes.
In addition to Georgia, the states of Alaska, Nevada, North Carolina and Pennsylvania must be declared winners. The election officials in the individual states are still going through thousands of outstanding absentee ballots to create an official E