Georgia governor certifies presidential electors for Biden

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger speaks Friday in Atlanta during a news conference announcing he would certify that Joe Biden won the state’s presidential race after a hand tally stemming from a mandatory audit affirmed the Democrat’s lead over Republican President Trump.

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia’s governor and top elections official on Friday certified results showing Joe Biden won the presidential race over Republican President Trump, bringing the state one step closer to wrapping up an election fraught with unfounded accusations of fraud by Trump and his supporters.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger certified results reported by the state’s 159 counties that show Biden with 2.47 million votes, President 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%.

Later Friday, Gov. Brian Kemp certified the state’s slate of 16 presidential electors, his spokesman Cody Hall said. Biden is the first Democratic presidential nominee to carry the state since 1992.

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.”

The Republican governor hasn’t stepped forward to defend the integrity of this year’s elections amid attacks by Trump and other members of his own party, who claim without evidence that the presidential vote in Georgia was tainted by fraud. Kemp has neither endorsed Trump’s fraud claims nor backed Raffensperger, a fellow Republican, in his assertion that the election was conducted fairly.

The counties’ results were affirmed by a hand count of the 5 million ballots cast in the race, according to results released by the secretary of state’s office. The tally resulted 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. Raffensperger said the hand tally confirmed Biden’s victory.

“Working as an engineer throughout my life, I live by the motto that numbers don’t lie,” 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.”

Raffensperger’s office stumbled earlier in the day when it prematurely announced the certification while it was still unfinished. Forty minutes afterward, a corrected news release was sent out saying that certification was still to come. The momentary slip was yet another moment of drama in a race that has been full of it.

Now that the results are certified, Trump’s campaign will have two business days to request a recount since the margin is within 0.5%. That recount would be done using scanning machines that read and tally the votes and would be paid for by the counties, the secretary of state’s office has said.

The hand count for the audit 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%.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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