ATLANTA – The hand-recount of more than five million votes across the state of Georgia reaffirmed Thursday that President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has been upset in a state that has long been seen as a Republican stronghold.
The results of the process were made public Thursday evening by Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office. President Trump’s campaign demanded a manual recount last week, and shortly thereafter Mr Raffensperger announced he would do so as part of a “risk-limiting audit.”
The audit concluded that the initial result remained “as originally announced”, according to a press release from Mr. Raffensperger’s office. Verified vote totals showed Mr. Biden defeated Mr. Trump by 12,284 votes, with Mr. Trump getting 1,872 net votes in the process.
The secretary of state’s office said that a manual count of each presidential vote cast was necessary to meet “the legally required confidence level for the audit.”
After the New York Times and other national media called out Georgia on behalf of Mr. Biden last week, Mr. Trump denigrated the electoral process in that country, making baseless accusations of fraud in connection with ‘a broader effort to undermine confidence in the presidential election. A Trump campaign fundraising email Thursday night called the Georgia audit a “joke.”
The Biden campaign released a statement on Thursday saying that the manual counting of the ballots “simply reaffirmed what we already knew: Georgian voters chose Joe Biden to be their next president.”
Although the result was something in advance, the audit took place against a backdrop of growing tension over the election outcome. Senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, Republicans facing tough second-round races in Georgia, disparaged Raffensperger and accused him of mismanaging the election.
The audit found some significant hiccups, with four counties – Floyd, Fayette, Walton and Douglas – uncovering votes that were not part of the original tally. Mr. Trump led Floyd, Fayette and Walton counties; Mr. Biden won Douglas County.
The Floyd County Board of Elections on Thursday voted unanimously to fire its chief electoral secretary, Robert Brady, according to board member Dr. Melanie Conrad. Mr Brady was fired after authorities found 2,600 ballots that had not been counted before the county’s initial certification of the votes.
The newly uncovered ballots devoured Mr Biden’s head of state, which stood at 14,156 votes when the audit began. But most of the state’s 159 counties saw only minor changes in their tally, with updated vote totals differing by a single digit.
The state must certify the election results Friday at 5 p.m. The Trump campaign then has two business days to request an official recount due to Mr. Biden’s narrow margin of victory. This would be done with high speed scanners.