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Georgia election officials certify results for Biden win

Published: Nov. 20, 2020 at 12:37 PM EST
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ATLANTA - Georgia’s top elections officials on Friday certified election results showing Joe Biden won the presidential election.

The final results certified by Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger had Biden with 2.47 million votes, President Donald Trump with 2.46 million votes and Libertarian Jo Jorgensen with 62,138. That leaves Biden leading by a margin of 12,670 votes or 0.25%.

The certified results of state and federal races will be found on the Secretary of State’s website: sos.ga.gov.

“Working as an engineer throughout my life, I live by the motto that numbers don’t lie,” Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said during a news conference at the state Capitol. “As secretary of state, I believe that the numbers that we have presented today are correct. The numbers reflect the verdict of the people, not a decision by the secretary of state’s office or of courts or of either campaign.”

Later Friday, Gov. Brian Kemp certified the state’s slate of 16 presidential electors. In an announcement streamed online, Kemp did not clearly endorse the results. Instead, he said the law requires him to “formalize the certification, which paves the way for the Trump campaign to pursue other legal options and a separate recount if they choose.”

Kemp also said that he was concerned that the audit looked only at ballots, not the signatures on the absentee ballot applications or absentee ballot envelopes.

Now with the certification, the two-business-day time period will begin for a candidate who lost by less than 0.5% of the vote to request a recount. Certification does not preclude the state from continuing any current investigations related to the general election or from pursuing any future allegations that may arise from these elections.

The hand tally stemmed from an audit required by a new state law and wasn’t in response to any suspected problems with the state’s results or an official recount request. The audit was meant to confirm that the voting machines correctly tabulated the votes.

The hand count produced some slight differences from the previous machine tally, but no individual county showed a variation in margin larger than 0.73%, and the variation in margin in 103 of the state’s 159 counties was less than 0.05%, the secretary of state’s office said. During the audit, several counties discovered previously uncounted ballots and were recertifying their results.

“It’s quite honestly hard to believe that during the audit thousands of uncounted ballots were found weeks after a razor-thin outcome in a presidential election,” Kemp said. “This is simply unacceptable.”

Raffensperger also said he plans to propose legislative changes aimed at increasing trust in the results, including allowing state officials to intervene in counties that have systemic problems in administering elections, requiring photo ID for absentee voting and adding stricter controls to allow for challenges to voters who might not live where they say.

“These measures will improve the security of our elections, and that should lead to greater public trust,” he said.

Raffensperger, a self-described “passionate conservative,” has endured criticism and insults from fellow Republicans — from the president to the chair of the state Republican Party — over his handling of the election. He acknowledged their feelings on Friday.

“Like other Republicans, I’m disappointed our candidate didn’t win Georgia’s electoral vote. Close elections sow distrust. People feel their side was cheated,” he said.

But Raffensperger, as he had repeatedly done before, defended the integrity of the process and the results.

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