Georgia announced Friday that it certified the results of the 2020 general election, which Republican Gov. Brian Kemp said he would sign, following a hand recount of nearly 5 million votes that saw the majority of the state's counties finding no change in their final tallies.
The Trump campaign has until Tuesday to request a machine recount. The state’s secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, reiterated the validity of the results Friday. The state announced it had completed the certification process a couple of hours before it was finalized.
“Close elections sow distrust, people feel their side was cheated, we saw this from the Democrats in 2018 and we see this from Republicans today,” he said to reporters. “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 either campaign.”
Raffensperger also advocated for election reforms that would allow the state to intervene in county election administration and add a voter ID requirement for absentee ballots.
At a press conference Friday, Kemp said state law requires his office to formalize the election certification, but he also raised numerous concerns about how the election was handled and urged a "thorough investigation" into any voting irregularities discovered during the audit.
“It is important for Georgians to know that the vast majority of local election workers did their job well under unprecedented circumstances and I thank them for their service," he said. "However, it is hard to believe during the audit thousands of uncounted ballots were found weeks after a razor thin outcome in a presidential election. This is simply unacceptable.”
He added, “We demand complete explanations for all discrepancies identified so that our citizens will have complete confidence in our elections. In the runoff elections, we cannot have lost memory cards or stacks of uncounted ballots. We must have full transparency in all monitoring and counting.”
Kemp said after he signs the certification, the Trump campaign can pursue a recount if it wants.
The hand count of nearly 5 million votes, required by a new state law, was completed Thursday. Biden went into the recount ahead by 13,558 votes, according to votes tallied by NBC News. Previously uncounted ballots discovered during the hand count reduced his lead to 12,284 votes, the Georgia secretary of state's office reported.
Once the state certifies the election results, the losing campaign has two business days to request a recount if the margin remains within 0.5 percent. That recount would be done using scanners that read and tally the votes, and it would be paid for by the counties, Gabriel Sterling, who oversees Georgia's voting systems, said.
"The recount process simply reaffirmed what we already knew: Georgia voters selected Joe Biden to be their next president," Jaclyn Rothenberg, Georgia communications director for the Biden campaign, said Thursday. "We are grateful to the election officials, volunteers and workers for working overtime and under unprecedented circumstances to complete this recount as the utmost form of public service."
Trump's campaign said in a statement that the recount went as it expected because it "recounted all of the illegal ballots that had been included in the total."