U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall is heading back to Washington, D.C., for another two years.
Elections officials in Gwinnett and Forsyth counties conducted a recount of the close race for the 7th Congressional District on Wednesday. That was in addition to an additional recount Gwinnett officials had to conduct in the Gwinnett County Board of Education District 2 race.
In the end, Woodall and Republican school board candidate Steve Knudsen were reaffirmed as the winners of their respective races.
Carolyn Bourdeaux, the Democratic candidate for the 7th Congressional District, conceded to Woodall in a statement about an hour after the results were certified by Gwinnett elections officials.
“I am grateful to every person who supported me along this journey. While we didn’t get the outcome we had hoped for in this election, we achieved an incredible amount,” Bourdeaux said. “This campaign was about more than me; it was about building community and working for change. We moved the needle in this district more than anyone thought possible.
“I congratulate Congressman Rob Woodall on his re-election and wish him all the best in his work on behalf of the people of the 7th Congressional district.”
Bourdeaux’s concession closes the book on a nationally watched race that the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee marked as one of its targets for flipping during this year’s midterm elections.
Even the recount itself was closely watched as the U.S. House of Representatives sent Republican, Democratic and nonpartisan observers to watch the counting of ballots.
“In a close race like this, I think they send observers to make sure we’re not doing anything (improper),” said Gwinnett County elections board chairman Stephen Day, one of the Gwinnett Democratic Party representatives on the board.
Heading into the recount, Bourdeaux trailed Woodall by 419 votes, or 0.14 percent. After the recount, Woodall’s lead was 433 votes, or 0.16 percent.
There were 116 precincts in Gwinnett, out of the county’s 156 precincts, affected by the recount of both races, which took nearly six hours to complete. Meanwhile, elections officials in Forsyth County simultaneously conducted a recount of their results from the 7th Congressional District race that lasted about four hours.
In Forsyth, Woodall picked up four additional votes, while Bourdeaux lost two, extending the congressman’s lead in that county by six votes to a total of 23,745.
In Gwinnett, Woodall picked up nine additional votes, while Bourdeaux — who won the Gwinnett side of the district — gained one vote.
In all, Woodall received 44,924 votes in Forsyth and 95,519 votes in Gwinnett for a total of 140,443 across the entire district. At the same time, Bourdeaux received 21,179 votes in Forsyth and 118,831 votes in Gwinnett for a total of 140,010.
Woodall had begun turning his attention to his next term last week, offering praise for Bourdeaux before her campaign announced it planned to seek a recount.
“I congratulate my opponent on a hard-fought campaign,” Woodall said in a statement on Nov. 15. “Now, we must turn our attention from elections to service, from those things that divide us to those things that make us stronger. The next two years are full of opportunity for our community, our state, and our nation.
“Together, we can and will continue making a difference.”
Meanwhile, Wandy Taylor, the Democratic candidate for school board District 2, requested a recount of the results in the school board race last week after county elections officials certified Gwinnett’s results on Dec. 15. Taylor trailed Knudsen by 118 votes, or 0.18 percent, in the school board race before the recount was conducted.
Taylor’s vote total stayed the same after the recount, but Knudsen lost one vote.
Bourdeaux’s campaign had raised concerns about the way Gwinnett conducted its recount. Campaign manager Spencer Smith said the Bourdeaux camp had been under the impression that Secretary of State Robyn Crittenden had ordered Gwinnett and Forsyth to do hand recounts. Elections staffers ran paper ballots through scanners.
Smith also raised concerns that representatives of the Bourdeaux campaign had to watch the counting of ballots from a distance of about 25 feet away and through glass windows.
“We feel like Gwinnett did not abide by what the secretary of state ordered them to do,” Smith said. “We feel like we should have had a meaningful opportunity to make sure that the ballots were counted appropriately.”
Gwinnett County elections board members said the county didn’t want too many people standing over the shoulders of staff members who were handling ballots and possibly distracting them.
Members of the elections board, which is made up of appointees from the Gwinnett Republican and Democratic parties as well as an independent, were allowed to go through the area where votes were being counted and watch the process up close. The observers from the U.S. House of Representatives were allowed similar access.
“We tried (to accommodate representatives of the campaigns) … but between the administrative folks and the legal (advisers), they decided you’d have too many people underfoot,” Day said.
“At the end of the day, this is about counting the ballots accurately, and you don’t want distractions back there because this is a human count and anything that would district from the folks doing their job is a detriment.”