Uncertified results put Jeff Duncan just .08 percent behind Meagan Biello, who took the second spot on the ballot for the Feb. 4 runoff against Tuesday’s frontrunner, Sam Moore.
With such a tight margin, Duncan said Thursday the “responsible” thing to do for his supporters’ sake is to ask for a recount.
“We almost have to. I can’t think of a tighter situation,” said Duncan, a Ball Ground businessman. “I’ve gotten literally dozens of calls from voters who voted for me asking me to do that. I feel like out of respect for their vote it needs to be done — not necessarily because I expect the outcome to change, although obviously it could.”
The recount will likely happen Tuesday or Wednesday, after the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office has certified the results of the election, said Janet Munda, Cherokee County election supervisor.
Biello said she can’t blame Duncan.
“Obviously, we hope it works out in our favor, but if I were two votes behind I’d be asking for a recount, too,” Biello, a Cherokee high school teacher, said Thursday. “We’ll go with it. Whatever happens, happens.”
When asked about the recount Thursday, Moore said he had no problem with it.
“As far as how I feel about Jeff asking for a recount, it’s his right to do so,” he said.
Moore, Biello, Duncan and Canton attorney Nate Cochran were competing for the seat, which covers parts of Cherokee, Forsyth and Fulton counties. It was left vacant by the death of state Rep. Calvin Hill (R-Canton) in October.
On Election Day, Moore, a Macedonia resident, easily led the crowded field with 924 votes, or about 38 percent of the 2,433 votes cast in all three counties. Biello got 576 votes, or about 24 percent, to Duncan’s 574 votes. Cochran trailed the field with 359, or about 15 percent of the vote, unofficial results showed.
In Fulton County, three provisional ballots weren’t counted because the voters didn’t live in District 22, officials said.
Officials with election offices in Cherokee, Forsyth and Fulton counties said Thursday the initially reported numbers appear to be correct, although Fulton County, which had just 57 votes, won’t certify its results to send to the Secretary of State’s Office until Saturday morning.
Duncan said there wasn’t much to lose in asking election workers to count the ballots one more time.
“It shouldn’t be too involved or cost that much to do it, because, frankly, not that many people voted,” he said.
Munda said there is basically no cost associated with the recount, since elections workers just have to take time out of their day to count the ballots.
However the recount turns out, Duncan said he will accept the result and can hold his head high.
“I’m very proud of how our campaign was run,” he said. “Never in any of our literature did we ever comment on other candidates, what other candidates didn’t do or weren’t doing, which is quite different than some of the candidates.”
Biello said she was anxious to continue to the runoff, and her supporters seem to feel the same way, assuming the numbers fall in her favor again after the recount.
“We’ve heard from a lot of supporters in the last 24 or 48 hours that they’re excited about helping us finish this thing through,” she said.