The top elections official in the U.S. state of Georgia affirmed on Friday that President-elect Joe Biden won the state’s presidential election, after its mandatory hand recount of ballots was completed on Thursday.
“Working as an engineer throughout my life, I live by the motto that numbers don’t lie,” Secretary of State Brad Raffenspeger said at a news conference Friday in Atlanta. “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.”
The recount was part of an audit ordered by Raffenspeger, a Republican and self-described proud supporter of President Donald Trump, under a new state law, which requires Raffenspeger to certify the results by 5 p.m. local time on Friday.
“Like other Republicans, I’m disappointed our candidate didn’t win Georgia’s electoral votes,” Raffenspeger told reporters.
Following Raffenspeger’s certification, Republican Governor Brian Kemp has until 5 p.m. local time on Saturday to certify the state’s presidential electors.
The recount produced some insignificant differences from the previous machine count, but no single county showed a margin variation greater than 0.73%, according to the office of the secretary of state. The margin in 103 of the state’s 159 counties was less than 0.05%.
The recount was unofficial, but the Trump campaign can request an official recount after the state’s results are certified Friday.
In addition to affirming the recount, Raffenspeger called for legislation to enhance the state’s voting system, including requiring photo identification for absentee voting and conducting audits in counties that have systemic problems administering elections.
The recount, finalized more than two weeks after Biden was declared the winner of the Nov. 3 presidential election, confirmed an extraordinary win for Democrats. A Democratic presidential candidate had not won Georgia since Bill Clinton’s victory in 1992, nearly 25 years before Trump captured the state by 5 percentage points in 2016 over Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Biden’s win in Georgia gives him an additional 16 electoral votes, boosting his total to 306, well ahead of Trump’s 232.
The U.S. employs an indirect form of democracy, not a national popular vote, to pick its leaders. The outcome is effectively decided in state-by-state elections throughout the 50-state country and the national capital, Washington, D.C. The winner needs a majority of 270 electoral votes in the 538-member Electoral College.