Biden wins Georgia after presidential hand recount

Atlanta: The Associated Press has called the state of Georgia for Democrat President elect Joe Biden after a top state official said a hand tally of ballots cast in the US presidential race had been completed, and the results affirmed Biden's narrow lead over Republican President Donald Trump.

The hand tally of about 5 million votes 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 state has until Friday, US time, to certify results that have been certified and submitted by the counties.

President-elect Joe Biden continues to be ahead of President Donald Trump after the recount.Credit:AP, Bloomberg

The counties were supposed to finish the hand count by 11.59pm on Wednesday, Atlanta time. Gabriel Sterling, who oversaw the implementation of the state's new voting system, said on Thursday evening that the audit was complete and the results would soon be posted on the secretary of state's website.

Once the state certifies the election results, the losing campaign has two business days to request a recount if the margin remains within 0.5 per cent. That recount would be done using scanners that read and tally the votes and would be paid for by the counties, Sterling said.

It was up to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to select the race to be audited, and he said the presidential race made the most sense because of its significance and the tight margin separating the candidates. Because of that small margin, Raffensperger said a full hand recount was necessary.

An election official handles ballots during the vote audit in Marietta, Georgia.Credit:AP

Votes that hadn't previously been counted were found in several counties during the audit, which required recertification of the election results in those counties.

In Floyd County, more than 2500 ballots were discovered during the audit that hadn't previously been scanned, and the Secretary of State's office had called for the firing of the county's chief elections clerk, Robert Brady. The county elections board on Thursday voted to issue a written reprimand to Brady and, because it was his second written reprimand within six months, to fire him in accordance with county policy, board member Melanie Conrad said in an email.

Several other counties found memory cards with votes that hadn't been uploaded and counted prior to the audit.

Going into the hand tally, Biden led Trump by a margin of about 14,000 votes. The previously uncounted ballots discovered during the hand count will reduce that margin to about 12,800, Sterling said.

The Associated Press and this masthead have not declared a winner in Georgia, where Biden led Trump by about 0.3 percentage points. There is no mandatory recount law in Georgia, but state law provides that option to a trailing candidate if the margin is less than 0.5 percentage points. It is AP’s practice not to call a race that is — or is likely to become — subject to a recount.

AP

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