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Georgia Secretary of State certifies election for Joe Biden

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ATLANTA — Georgia’s top elec­tions offi­cial on Fri­day cer­ti­fied results show­ing Joe Biden won the pres­i­den­tial race over Repub­li­can Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

The cer­ti­fi­ca­tion brings the state one step clos­er to wrap­ping up an elec­tion that has been fraught with unfound­ed accu­sa­tions of fraud by Trump and his sup­port­ers. It is now up to Repub­li­can Gov. Bri­an Kemp to cer­ti­fy the state’s slate of 16 pres­i­den­tial elec­tors. He has until 5 p.m. Sat­ur­day.

The results cer­ti­fied by Sec­re­tary of State Brad Raf­fensperg­er had Biden with 2.47 mil­lion votes, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump with 2.46 mil­lion votes and Lib­er­tar­i­an Jo Jor­gensen with 62,138. That leaves Biden lead­ing by a mar­gin of 12,670 votes or 0.25%.

The cer­ti­fi­ca­tion of results report­ed by the state’s 159 coun­ties fol­lowed a metic­u­lous hand count of the 5 mil­lion bal­lots cast in the race. The hand tal­ly stemmed from an audit required by a new state law and wasn’t in response to any sus­pect­ed prob­lems with the state’s results or an offi­cial recount request. The audit was meant to con­firm that the vot­ing machines cor­rect­ly tab­u­lat­ed the 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.”

Kemp announced a news con­fer­ence for Fri­day at 5 p.m. The Repub­li­can gov­er­nor hasn’t stepped for­ward to defend the integri­ty of this year’s elec­tions amid attacks by Trump and oth­er mem­bers of his own par­ty, who claim with­out evi­dence that the pres­i­den­tial vote in Geor­gia was taint­ed by fraud. Kemp has nei­ther endorsed Trump’s fraud claims nor backed Raf­fensperg­er in his asser­tion that the elec­tion was con­duct­ed fair­ly.

Raffensperger’s office stum­bled ear­li­er in the day when it pre­ma­ture­ly announced the cer­ti­fi­ca­tion while it was still unfin­ished. Forty min­utes after­ward, a cor­rect­ed news release was sent out say­ing that the results would be released lat­er. The momen­tary slip was yet anoth­er moment of dra­ma in a race that has been fraught with accu­sa­tions.

Biden is the first Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee to car­ry the state since 1992.

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.

The hand count pro­duced some slight dif­fer­ences from the pre­vi­ous machine tal­ly, but no indi­vid­ual coun­ty showed a vari­a­tion in mar­gin larg­er than 0.73%, and the vari­a­tion in mar­gin in 103 of the state’s 159 coun­ties was less than 0.05%, the sec­re­tary of state’s office said. Dur­ing the audit, sev­er­al coun­ties dis­cov­ered pre­vi­ous­ly uncount­ed bal­lots and had to recer­ti­fy their results.

It is the totals cer­ti­fied by the coun­ties, not the results of the hand tal­ly, that were cer­ti­fied by the state.

Raf­fensperg­er also said Fri­day that he plans to pro­pose leg­isla­tive changes aimed at increas­ing trust in the results, includ­ing allow­ing state offi­cials to inter­vene in coun­ties that have sys­temic prob­lems in admin­is­ter­ing elec­tions, requir­ing pho­to ID for absen­tee vot­ing and adding stricter con­trols to allow for chal­lenges to vot­ers who might not live where they say.

“These mea­sures will improve the secu­ri­ty of our elec­tions, and that should lead to greater pub­lic trust,” he said.

Raf­fensperg­er, a self-described “pas­sion­ate con­ser­v­a­tive,” has endured crit­i­cism and insults from fel­low Repub­li­cans — from the pres­i­dent to the chair of the state Repub­li­can Par­ty — over his han­dling of the elec­tion. He acknowl­edged their feel­ings on Fri­day.

“Like oth­er Repub­li­cans, I’m dis­ap­point­ed our can­di­date didn’t win Georgia’s elec­toral vote. Close elec­tions sow dis­trust. Peo­ple feel their side was cheat­ed,” he said.

But Raf­fensperg­er, as he had repeat­ed­ly done before, defend­ed the integri­ty of the process and the results.

Asso­ci­at­ed Press Writer Sud­hin Thanawala con­tributed to this sto­ry.

BxDdSnEyEII - Georgia Secretary of State certifies election for Joe Biden

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