Gov. Brian Kemp signed off on certifying Georgia’s presidential election results Friday following a hand recount of a record-breaking number of ballots that confirmed President-elect Joe Biden beat President Donald Trump in the state by a slim 12,670 votes.
The Nov. 3 election results certified Friday by Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger also confirmed Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Jon Ossoff captured enough votes to force a runoff with incumbent Republican Sen. David Perdue.
Additionally, the certified results showed Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux flipped a suburban Atlanta area congressional seat, while state Republican lawmakers will maintain control over both chambers in the Georgia General Assembly for the crucial redistricting process this summer.
Georgia’s presidential election has been fraught with controversy for nearly three weeks as Trump’s allies hurled claims of voter fraud. The weeklong recount that wrapped up Wednesday uncovered more than 5,000 previously uncounted votes.
Voters eager to oust Trump amid long-developing demographic changes in Atlanta’s suburbs and wary of standing in line at precincts due to the COVID-19 pandemic managed to cast a record-breaking 5,000,585 ballots, a large share of which came in the form of vote-by-mail.
As the state’s election chief, Raffensperger hailed the unprecedented hand-recount effort as an immense achievement on the part of county election workers that proved Georgia’s newly installed voting system worked after months of uncertainty.
“Working as an engineer throughout my life, I live by the motto that numbers don’t lie,” Raffensperger said Friday morning. “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 of either campaign.”
But Kemp struck a far different tone in his remarks Friday evening, lashing out at the state’s election system for initially missing thousands of uncounted ballots and calling for legislative changes to how voter signatures are verified on absentee ballots once the General Assembly convenes in mid-January.
“It is important for Georgians to know that the vast majority of local election workers did their job well under unprecedented circumstances,” Kemp said. “However, it’s quite honestly hard to believe that during the audit, thousands of uncounted ballots were found weeks after a razor-thin outcome in a presidential election. This is simply unacceptable.”
Under state law, Trump can still request a separate recount by early next week due to the narrow margin separating him from Biden, which would be done by re-scanning all the ballots electronically rather than re-tallying again them by hand.
Meanwhile, Georgia Democrats have been jubilant over the election results in a state where a Democratic candidate for president has not won since 1992. They have shifted focus to Georgia’s two Senate runoff races that would give Democrats control of the White House and Congress if both Democratic candidates win.
“The audit revealed what was obvious from the start: we flipped Georgia blue,” the Georgia Democratic Party said on Twitter. “The voters have spoken, and nothing is going to change that.”
The runoff elections between Perdue and Ossoff and between Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler and Democratic challenger Rev. Raphael Warnock are set for Jan. 5.