Election

Georgia Certifies Election Results Ahead Of Deadline

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger says he has confidence in the November election results, but also called for reforms to "build voter trust"
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger says he has confidence in the November election results, but also called for reforms to "build voter trust"
Credit Emil Moffatt / WABE
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Updated Friday at 4:31 p.m.

After a false start earlier Friday afternoon, Georgia certified its election results Friday, with President-elect Joe Biden capturing Georgia’s 16 electoral college votes.

“Working as an engineer throughout my life, I live by the motto that numbers don’t lie,” Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said during a news conference at the state Capitol. “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.”

The Secretary of State’s office had stumbled earlier on the final step, prematurely announcing that the certification was complete while only unofficial results remained on the public website. Forty minutes after the big news, the secretary of state’s office corrected its news release and said the results would be released later.

In the end, the hand count affirmed Biden won by more than 12,000 votes out of about 5 million cast, according to data released by Raffensperger’s office Thursday.

Raffensperger says as a Republican, he’s disappointed by the outcome but that it is accurate.

“As the secretary of state, I believe that the numbers that we have presented today are correct,” said Raffensperger. “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.”

The Associated Press called the Georgia race for Biden on Thursday night.

Now that the results are certified, Trump’s campaign will have two business days to request a recount since the margin is within 0.5%. That recount would be done using scanning machines that read and tally the votes and would be paid for by the counties, the secretary of state’s office has said.

Under state law, Raffensperger was required to certify the election results by 5 p.m. Friday. Now, Gov. Brian Kemp has until 5 p.m. Saturday to certify the state’s slate of 16 presidential electors.

Election Reforms

Even while seeking to bolster confidence in this year’s election results, Raffensperger says he will work with Kemp and state legislators on reforms that he says will “build voters trust in our electoral system”.

He says this includes a law that would let his office intervene in counties with “systemic, ongoing problems in administering elections”

“Elections in our state are run by counties,” said Raffensperger. “Some do it great and some don’t.”

Raffensperger noted that the just-completed audit revealed that some counties failed to either scan or upload thousands of ballots. Raffensperger said this was not necessarily an indication of systemic problems, but that better safeguards need to be in place to keep this from happening.

The secretary of state also called for the introduction of a voter ID requirement for absentee ballots in the state, replacing the current signature verification system.

“Democrats have long complained about it,” Raffensperger said of signature verification, “and now Republicans are raising concerns too.”

Voting rights groups object to requiring photo ID for absentee ballots, because of the technology required to provide proof of an ID – either through the absentee ballot portal or through copying or scanning one’s photo ID.

Raffensperger said this would help prevent fraud, although there have been no documented cases of widespread fraud among the 1.3 million voters who cast ballots by mail in the November election.

Carter Center Weighs In On Georgia Audit

The Carter Center says it deployed 68 monitors in 24 counties and oversaw, what it estimates as 60% of the ballots counted. (Emil Moffatt/WABE)

The Carter Center has released a preliminary report on the observations it made while monitoring Georgia’s statewide audit and hand recount.

The statement called the effort “particularly impressive given that counties had less than 48 hours to prepare for the process, which was carried out in a highly politicized environment and in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Carter Center says it deployed 68 monitors in 24 counties and oversaw, what it estimates as 60% of the ballots counted.

The Carter Center said its monitors noted that in general, the audit was conducted “according to procedures and without significant problems,” while also noted a handful of what it called “inconsistencies in the implementation of the recount, none of which affected the outcome of the process,” mainly pointing out how counties operated differently and how ballots were moved from point to point in the audit process.

The report said it witnessed more Republican monitors than Democratic ones and noted that, “while political party monitors were generally collegial, Carter Center monitors reported several instances where the behavior of Republican monitors was perceived as potentially intimidating to audit workers, or where it became more aggressive.”

DeKalb Ousts Elections Employee

DeKalb County had to certify its Nov. 3 election results for a third time on Friday morning after it was discovered that 59 additional ballots were not part of its original count.

This is in addition to 36 ballots that it said on Thursday had been added. The county’s board of elections chair Samuel Tillman says the same employee, a manager, is at fault for all 95 omitted ballots.

“All of our internal reviews indicate that these two omissions were primarily caused by a single employee’s negligent failure to follow protocol and are in no way reflective of our collective efforts to maintain the highest standards for election safety, security and transparency,” Tillman said in a statement.

Tillman said DeKalb County immediately made the secretary of state’s office aware of the issue and moved to re-certify the results. He says the manager in question is now a “former employee”.

“We refuse to allow the reckless acts of one irresponsible former employee to discredit this entire election and the votes of more than 373,000 DeKalb County residents,” said Tillman.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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