Georgia Officials Say Latest Recount Shows Biden Won State

A second recount of the votes in Georgia confirmed that President-elect Joe Biden won the state, the top elections official said Monday.

The state re-certified Biden’s 11,779-vote official victory over President Donald Trump in Georgia on Monday that appoints his 16 electors to the Electoral College, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, said in a statement.

“It’s been a long 34 days since the election on November 3rd,” Raffensperger said at a press conference earlier in Atlanta. “We have now counted legally cast ballots three times, and the results remain unchanged.”

Trump’s campaign had requested that the votes be counted again after Georgia first certified its results on Nov. 20. State law allows for a recount if the margin between candidates is 0.5% or less.

The second recount involved putting ballots back through scanners. The more than 5 million ballots cast in the state on Nov. 3 had already been re-tallied by hand, in an audit intended to verify the accuracy of the machines.

Trump has claimed without evidence that he lost because of widespread voter fraud, in Georgia as well as other battleground states, and has criticized the state’s Republican leaders.

The allegations have split the GOP in Georgia just weeks before a Jan. 5 runoff election that will decide which party controls the U.S. Senate. Incumbent Republican Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue have criticized Raffensperger and demanded his resignation.

Trump has assailed both Raffensperger and the state’s Republican Governor Brian Kemp, a former ally, accusing them of not doing enough to overturn his defeat. Some of the president’s supporters have threatened Raffensperger, his wife, his staff and election workers with violence.

After the announcement, Trump again railed against Kemp on Twitter, saying the governor “refuses to do signature verification, which would give us an easy win. What’s wrong with this guy? What is he hiding?” But Georgia officials have said the signatures were verified, and that it’s now impossible to connect ballots to envelopes after they are opened. They are separated for privacy reasons.

Georgia’s Republican leaders have rejected Trump’s effort to pressure them to reverse the state’s election result. Kemp and Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan said in a statement that they won’t call a special session of the state legislature to appoint Trump backers to the Electoral College to compete with the slate of Biden electors based on the popular vote because that would be illegal.

‘Suitcase’ of Ballots

Gabriel Sterling, the state’s election system manager, continued to debunk election fraud conspiracy theories that had surfaced recently -- including a widely circulated video of what Trump’s supporters have said is a smoking gun of fraud showing a “suitcase” of ballots being pulled from under a table at State Farm Arena in Atlanta where ballots were counted.

The “suitcase” was a standard ballot-handling box and the video was innocent, Sterling said. The entire video from which the clip was taken shows election workers had been preparing to go home and had packed up uncounted ballots for the night, before being told they had to stay and keep counting, Sterling said.

He said the Trump campaign and its lawyers had access to the full videotape and knew their characterization of the smaller clip was false. He predicted they wouldn’t characterize the video the same way in court. “That’s the kind of thing that can get you sanctioned,” Sterling said.

Raffensperger said all the talk about a stolen election was hurting the state, whether from Trump or Democrat Stacey Abrams, who complained about the election administration in her loss to Kemp in the 2018 governor’s race.

“Whether it is the president of the United States or a failed gubernatorial candidate, disinformation regarding election administration should be condemned and rejected,” Raffensperger said. “Integrity matters. Truth matters.”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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