ATLANTA, GEORGIA (BLOOMBERG) – Georgia officials late on Thursday (Nov 19) completed a recount of the state’s Nov 3 presidential vote that showed President-elect Joe Biden keeping a narrower but still decisive lead, dealing another setback to President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the results.
The Georgia secretary of state’s office said Mr Biden had an advantage of 12,284 votes.
The hand recount of the state’s 5 million votes was ordered after the initial count found Mr Biden ahead by 12,780 votes, or about 0.3 percentage points.
“Georgia’s historic first statewide audit reaffirmed that the state’s new secure paper ballot voting system accurately counted and reported results,” said Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican.
“This is a credit to the hard work of our county and local elections officials who moved quickly to undertake and complete such a momentous task in a short period of time.”
While the recount revealed uncounted ballots in four counties that bolstered Mr Trump’s count, it wasn’t enough to change the outcome of the race, which was called for Mr Biden last week, making him the first Democrat to carry Georgia since Mr Bill Clinton in 1992.
Mr Raffensperger ordered the recount of the presidential contest to reassure voters that the election had been conducted fairly, has until the end of the day Friday to certify the election results.
Governor Brian Kemp would then sign off on a slate of electors.
Once the votes are certified, state law allows the Trump campaign to ask for another recount, given the narrow margins. The campaign has until Nov 24 to make that request.
That recount would require counties to put paper ballots through scanners again, instead of the just-completed tally by hand. Only a court can order the state’s counties to count the ballots by hand again.
Mr Trump’s effort to reverse the results of the election has involved lawsuits and demands for recounts in several states.
In Georgia, the election and its aftermath have pitted Republican against Republican, as the Trump campaign and his supporters said without evidence that the vote was rigged.
Georgia’s US Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, who are defending their seats in a highly competitive runoff election in January that could determine control of the Senate, called for Mr Raffensperger’s resignation last week, citing unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud.
Mr Raffensperger has defended the integrity of the vote.
In an interview on Tuesday he criticised what he called a “campaign of misinformation, disinformation and outright lies about the process in Georgia.”
The secretary of state said Mr Trump’s frequent and unsubstantiated accusations that mail-in voting is ripe for fraud may have cost him the state, as Republicans refrained from using absentee ballots.
Mr Trump and his allies have also filed lawsuits in Georgia. One, alleging that fewer than 60 absentee ballots in Chatham County were improperly counted, has already been dismissed, while another that seeks to stop the state from certifying results is pending.
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