Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced Friday that his office is set to certify election results that would formally declare President-elect Joe Biden as the winner in the state, reversing course after an earlier announcement that the state had already completed the certification process.
Biden is expected to win the state by more than 12,000 votes. President Donald Trump’s campaign is still entitled to request a recount, because of the narrowness of the result, once the results are certified.
“Working as an engineer throughout my life, I live by the motto that numbers don’t lie,” Raffensperger, a Republican, said in a brief press conference earlier Friday morning. “The numbers reflect the verdict of the people, not a decision by the secretary of state’s office, or of courts, or of either campaigns.”
Raffensperger’s office initially announced shortly before 12:30 p.m. that it had certified the results. However, a bit after 1 p.m., his office announced that he will certify results on Friday, not that he has already done so. The office did not provide an explanation for its own correction in its latest release, and did not immediately respond to a request for clarification.
Friday is the deadline to certify in the state.
The expected certification of the results follows a statewide audit, in which every ballot was re-tallied by hand. The audit, which was conducted to check the accuracy of the initial machine recount, found a very small deviation — nowhere near enough to change results — between the machine count and the hand tally, which was expected. The certified results will reflect the initial machine tally, not the audit.
In addition, during the process of the audit, four counties — Floyd, Fayette, Douglas and Walton — found ballots that were not initially reported, either because they were never initially counted or not uploaded correctly. Those counties all reuploaded their results, which shrank Biden’s margin by around 1,400 votes, not enough to jeopardize his overall lead.
If the Trump campaign does request a recount, it would be very unlikely to change the results. That’s because the recount would involve a machine re-tally of the results, and the audit confirmed the accuracy of the machine counters.
Raffensperger has faced significant criticism from Republicans nationally and within his state, who have alleged widespread impropriety without providing any evidence. The state’s two Republican senators — David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler — called on him to resign.
But Georgia’s chief election officer, who has stressed he’s a supporter of the president, has continually defended the integrity of the election, pushing back against the vague allegations.
“Like other Republicans, I’m disappointed our candidate didn’t win,” Raffensperger said at the Friday press conference. But he stressed the results were accurate.
During the press conference, Raffensperger called on the state legislature to pass a new law letting the state intervene in individual counties that have “systemic, ongoing problems” in election administration. He cited the revelation from the audit that some counties didn’t initially report all of their results. Raffensperger said it raised concerns, though it didn’t necessarily mean there are systemic problems.
Raffensperger also said there should be legislation that requires photo IDs for absentee ballots, something he previously supported in 2018, and allow for stronger challenges to voters who are “suspected of not living where they are registered to vote.”