By 7 a.m. on Saturday, November 14, the windowless, cavernous hall six flights below street level at the Georgia World Congress Center in downtown Atlanta was bustling. Hundreds of county government employees wearing face masks were seated in pairs at 170 tables with pens, forms and bottles of hand sanitizer. They had come to manually count every vote for president in Fulton County, the epicenter of Joe Biden’s still unofficial 14,000-vote victory over President Trump.
Their task was sorting and counting more than half-a-million paper ballots cast in Georgia’s most populous county. As observers from political parties, campaigns and voting rights groups roved, watched and sometimes leered, the assembled librarians, social workers and other civil servants proceeded.