Later in the day, said Janine Eveler, the director of elections and registration for Cobb County, the workers would move on to hand-marked absentee ballots, which take more time because of potential issues that need to be closely examined.
But Ms. Eveler said that in Cobb County, ballots deemed to have potential issues in the first counting — about five or six boxes’ worth — had already been separated and adjudicated once, making it unlikely that significant numbers of votes would change in the recount.
Any ambiguous ballots, including the batch that was already adjudicated, would be sent to a panel composed of a Democrat, a Republican and a representative from the county election board. That panel is scheduled to meet publicly on Saturday.
All of Georgia’s 159 counties rely on such panels to resolve issues of ambiguous voter intentions.
A little more than three hours after Cobb County began its recount, its election board certified the results based on the original count. And yet the workers recounted anyway. Ms. Eveler said the total would be recertified if it changed.
Similar scenes played out across the state.
In suburban Gwinnett County, the audit was conducted in a large room in the back of the elections office. Near the main entrance, black ballot boxes were lined up in five rows, ready to be distributed among 60 white tables spaced around the room.
The morning went smoothly — for the most part. At around 11 a.m., one of the workers was given a warning for taking out a phone, potentially violating a rule against taking pictures of the ballots. The worker received a warning. The counting continued.
In Paulding County, a deeply conservative area that went heavily for Mr. Trump, 42 workers paired up around 21 tables in a government office. Most of the workers were not wearing masks even though coronavirus cases are once again rising in the state.
By around 3 p.m., Ms. Holden said, about a quarter of the county’s 85,600 ballots had been recounted. Roughly 50 ballots had been flagged for review by a bipartisan adjudication panel, but in each case, she said, the Democrat and Republican agreed on the voter’s intent.
Richard Fausset reported from Marietta and Dallas, Ga., and Jannat Batra from Lawrenceville, Ga.