Georgia secretary of state certifies election results, making Biden's victory official
Georgian Foreign Secretary Brad Raffensperger confirmed Friday's general election results and made it official that President-elect Joe Biden won the state's 16 votes.
"I have worked as an engineer my whole life and live by these numbers that do not lie. As Foreign Minister, I believe that the numbers that we have presented today are correct," Raffensperger said during a press conference. "The numbers reflect the judgment of the people, not a decision by the Secretary of State or our courts or either of the two campaigns."
It was the first time since Veterans Day that the secretary appeared on cameras at the Georgia State Capitol in Atlanta when he announced that the state would do a full handcount of votes in the President's race. The results of the audit were finalized and published on Thursday evening.
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Raffensperger had quarantined because his wife Tricia tested positive for coronavirus on November 12. He told the press that he has been tested three times since then and tested negative each time. He didn't take off his mask until he got to the podium.
With the results confirmed, Republican Governor Brian Kemp is now required to "certify the list of presidential voters with the highest number of votes by 5:00 pm". Saturday. While President Kemp has repeatedly flagged Kemp in tweets, including one that read "Republicans Must Get Rough," the governor has given no indication that he will not continue his part in this process.
ABC News asked Kemp's office on Friday whether the governor would definitely certify voters by the deadline but had not received a response.
PHOTO: Georgian Foreign Secretary Brad Raffensperger speaks during a press conference in Atlanta on November 20, 2020. (Brynn Anderson / AP)
In a brief comment on Friday, Raffensperger said he was "disappointed". President Donald Trump, who he said was a "proud supporter," did not win the state of Georgia as he made it easy in 2016.
"Tight electoral margins lead to struggles that are just as intense after election day as the campaigns before," he said. "Tight elections sow suspicion. People feel betrayed. We saw that from the Democrats in 2018. And we see that today from the Republicans."
After the results of the test were released, which confirmed Biden's lead over Trump in Georgia by more than 10,000 votes, the president's campaign said Raffensperger should not certify the results and said his team would pursue all "legal options" .
"This so-called handcount went exactly as we expected, as Georgia simply recounted all the illegal ballot papers that were included in the total. We continue to urge Georgia to conduct an honest recount that includes the matching of signatures," it said Trump Legal Senior Legal Advisor Jenna Ellis said in a statement.
Although the unprecedented hand census audit confirmed that the machine table results were correct, the Trump campaign is still eligible to request a full recount. It must be formally requested by Tuesday, and under state law, the recount would use high-capacity scanners rather than hand-done.
MORE: Georgia electoral officials refute untruths and defend the integrity of the trial and the election
But just because it's done mechanically doesn't mean it won't be another time-consuming endeavor by the county election officials.
Not only would the cost of a recount fall on the counties - and not the Trump campaign - but officials would also run against the December 8th "safe haven" deadline. Congress requires that the results of the presidential elections be considered final for six days prior to the electoral assembly, which will be held on December 14 this year.
Every county has at least one scanner to do a recount, said the state secretary. The largest counties have more than one, but it will be days before all of the ballots cast in the presidential race have been re-scanned.
Some counties may be forced to work through Thanksgiving in order to complete the recount in time. Election workers across the state, especially in the most populous counties, have had little to no free time since the elections. They often worked late into the night and on weekends to do the first count and then the largest count by hand in US history.
During his remarks on Friday, Raffensperger also set his priorities for future electoral reform.
Without going into too much detail, he said he wanted to see legislation that would allow his office to intervene if a county had "persistent systemic problems managing elections".
"We need a means that allows the state to address problem areas and move these districts in the right direction," he said.
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Considering the few thousand uncounted ballot papers discovered in some counties during the audit, he added that there needs to be a better voting process to prevent this from happening again.
Raffensperger also said he wanted photo identification to use when applying for postal ballot papers, and said the significant increase in voters choosing this voting method "raises concerns about electoral integrity." Georgia has not allowed apologetic postal votes since 2005, but in previous elections without a pandemic, only about 5% of voters cast ballots this way.
Photo IDs are required for personal voters, and Raffensperger said the postal vote requirement would remove the "controversial signature verification system" and move the state from a "subjective system to an objective system".
"I will work with lawmakers to come up with a solution that will allow us to use the same security measures for postal voting that we have for personal voting, including requiring photo ID," the secretary said. "We know this works. We know this will stop fraud. We know claims that it would suppress have been proven false using empirical evidence or studies."
The Trump campaign and the Republican Party of Georgia have been making false claims about the state's signature matching and rejection rates for days.
PHOTO: President Donald Trump speaks in the Brady Briefing Room at the White House in Washington on November 5, 2020. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP via Getty Images, FILE)
"Almost ZERO ballots were rejected in Georgia in this election. Almost 4% in the past few years. Not possible. Must have envelope signature verification now. Very easy to do. Fighting dem because they were caught. Far more votes than for that Flip needed. Republicans have to get tough! @BrianKempGA, "Trump tweeted Thursday.
Gabriel Sterling, with the Secretary of State, had previously said that when Republicans make this point, they are comparing "apples and oranges" because the full rejection rate includes postal ballots that come in after the deadline, and that type of rejection is what makes it " vast majority "of the rejected postal ballot papers.
Sterling said that of the 1.3 million postal ballot papers returned for that election, 2,011 were rejected for missing or inaccurate signatures, a rejection rate of 0.15%; In 2016, of the 246,000 postal ballot papers returned, 580 were rejected due to signature problems, which amounted to 0.15%.
MORE: Georgia counties must begin handcounting testing by Friday morning. This is how it works.
Trump and his allies have grappled with a March settlement between Raffensperger, the State Election Board, the Democratic Party of Georgia, and the election campaign weapons of the National Democratic House and Senate. Republicans have claimed the consent decree made it harder for election officials to reject postal ballot papers for mismatched signatures, and this means it is less likely to do so. The Secretariat has denied this and claimed that Raffensperger tightened the protocols for signature comparison during his tenure.
The consent decree changed how quickly electoral officials must notify a voter that the postal vote has been rejected if the rejection occurs within 11 days of the election. In addition, the secretary had to enforce a rule in the counties according to which an election worker must obtain the opinion of two colleagues before rejecting a postal vote because of a question about the signature.
Republicans have also resisted the test because election officials did not re-confirm every signature that was associated with postal votes. Nor will this be done as part of a formal recount.
Without a court order or “credible evidence in pursuit of a specific subject” - which has not yet been presented - no re-signatures will be carried out, according to Sterling.
The Georgian Foreign Minister certifies the election results and originally makes Biden's official victory on abcnews.go.com
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