Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced early Friday morning the state will certify the Nov. 3 election results, paving the way for Georgia’s 16 Presidential Electors to vote for Joe Biden.
Raffensperger, a Republican who reiterated his personal support for President Donald Trump during the press conference, also called for changes in the state’s voting system he said are designed to strengthen Georgians’ faith in the election process. The call for reforms comes during a week when Raffensperger has been criticized by Trump and other Republican leaders.
“Close elections sow distrust; people feel their side was cheated,” Raffensperger said. “We saw this from Democrats in 2018, and we see this from Republicans today… As secretary of state, I believe that the numbers we’ve presented today are correct. The numbers reflect a verdict of the people.”
Georgia has to certify its election results by 5 pm. Friday, and Gov. Brian Kemp has until 5 p.m. Saturday to certify the state’s presidential electors, who will vote on Dec. 14.
Voting system changes
Raffensperger went on to outline several election system reforms he wants to work with Kemp and Georgia General Assembly to pass.
He wants legislation that would allow his office to “intervene” in counties that have systemic election issues and a reconciliation process that would prevent counties from missing votes.
Raffensperger said Georgia and its 159 counties “performed admirably” as millions of voters used absentee ballots to vote during the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently, one of the ways the state verifies the validity of an absentee ballot is by checking a signature on the ballot against a state signature database. Raffensperger said he wants to use a photo ID requirement, currently in place for in-person voting, for votes by mail.
The Secretary of State also wants “stricter controls” that allow election officials to challenge voters who are suspected of not living where they are registered to vote. Raffensperger said these measures would improve election security and, by extension, Georgians’ confidence in the system.
He did not take questions from the media.
Could Georgia have another recount?
The certification, which confirms President-elect Biden won Georgia’s 16 electoral college votes by more than 12,000 votes, comes the morning after the results of a statewide hand recount were announced. The recount, technically an audit required by state law, resulted in about a 5,000 vote difference and a net gain of almost 500 votes for Trump. More than 4.9 million Georgians voted in the Nov. 3 presidential election, the vast majority via absentee ballots or during early voting.
Some human errors were discovered during the audit process, according to election officials.
The audit in Walton County found that a memory card of nearly 284 votes had not been uploaded. Floyd County workers had to rescan early and provisional ballots after 2,600 uncounted votes were found. Fayette County election officials found a memory card of nearly 2,800 votes that they had to upload to its final tally. Biden gained a net total of about 30 votes in Douglas County after election officials found an Election Day memory card.
Because Trump came with 0.5% of Biden, his campaign can legally request a recount. They have until Nov. 24 to do so.
Caleb Slinkard is the senior editor of the Macon Telegraph, moving to Middle Georgia in February of 2020. Caleb has previously worked as the managing editor of the El Dorado (Ark.) News-Times, the executive editor of the Norman (Okla.) Transcript and the executive editor of the Greenville (Texas) Herald-Banner. He’s a graduate of Texas A&M University-Commerce and enjoys reading, writing and watching the Dallas Mavericks or Texas Rangers in his spare time.