Georgia to undertake full recount of presidential election votes

11 November 2020, 18:54

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. Picture: PA

By Maddie Goodfellow

Georgia has announced a full hand recount of all Presidential election votes in the state.

Georgia's secretary of state announced on Wednesday an audit of presidential election results that he said will trigger a full hand recount.

Brad Raffensperger told a news conference that his office wants the process to begin by the end of the week and he expects it to take until November 20.

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The move comes as he faces growing pressure from fellow Georgia Republicans over unsubstantiated accusations of voting irregularities and mismanagement of the state's elections.

"This will help build confidence. It will be an audit, a recount and a recanvass all at once," Raffensperger said at a press conference. "It will be a heavy lift."

President-elect Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump by about 14,000 votes out of nearly 5 million votes in the state. Nearly all ballots have been counted, though counties have until Friday to certify their results.

It comes as Donald Trumpw as declared the winner in Alaska, more than a week after the 2020 US presidential election took place.

The announcement takes him to 217 electoral college votes.

Joe Biden was declared the winner of the presidential election on Saturday, after he received more than the 270 electoral college votes needed to win. He currently has 290, with a few states still yet to declare.

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Raffensperger said the presidential contest will undergo a risk-limiting audit, which requires a full by-hand recount in each of Georgia's 159 counties.

Ninety-seven counties in the state have sent in final numbers to the state, Raffensperger said, and the current margin of votes between President-elect Biden and President Trump is 14,111.

He vowed that his office has been investigating, and will continue to investigate, all instances of voting irregularities.

There is no mandatory recount law in Georgia, but state law provides that option to a trailing candidate if the margin is less than 0.5 percentage points.

Biden’s lead stood at 0.28 percentage points as of Wednesday morning.

Asked if he chose the presidential race because of the Trump campaign's call for a hand recount, Raffensperger said: “No, we're doing this because it's really what makes the most sense with the national significance of this race and the closeness of this race.”

For the hand recount, election officers will work with the paper ballots in batches, dividing them into piles for each candidate. Then they will run the piles through machines to count the number of ballots for each candidate. The scanners will not read the data on the ballots, simply count them.

Raffensperger said the process will have “plenty of oversight,” with both parties having the opportunity to observe.

After results from the hand recount are certified, the losing campaign can then request another recount, which will be performed by scanners that would read and tally the votes, Raffensperger said.

On Tuesday night, President-elect Joe Biden said "nothing is going to stop" his administration moving forward, despite President Donald Trump's refusal to concede the race for the White House.

Mr Biden said that his transition is "well under way" and that he is reviewing potential Cabinet picks and other positions.

The president-elect said some Republicans' denial of his victory "is not at much consequence in our plan and what we're able to do between now and January 20".

Asked by a reporter what he would say to President Trump, Mr Biden said: "Mr President, looking forward to speaking with you."

Speaking at a press conference in Delaware on Tuesday, Joe Biden said his message to world leaders was that "America is back in the game".

Mr Biden's comments came hours after US secretary of state Mike Pompeo insisted there would be a "smooth transition to a second Trump administration" despite the incumbent having lost the election.

At a press conference, Mr Pompeo was asked by a reporter: "Is the State Department preparing to engage with the Biden transition team, and if not, at what point does a delay hamper a smooth transition or pose a risk to national security?"

Secretary Pompeo responded: "There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration."

He continued: "We're ready. The world is watching what's taking place. We're gonna count all the votes. When the process is complete there will be an elector selected, there's a process which the constitution lays out pretty clearly."

He also stated that the world "needs to have confidence a transition would be successful."

Mr Pompeo was also asked whether he believes there is widespread voter fraud.

"I’m the Secretary of State. I’m getting calls from all across the world. These people are watching our election, they understand we have a legal process. They understand that this takes time," he replied.

"It took us 37 plus days in an election back in 2000, conducted a successful transition then.

"I’m very confident that we will count and we must count every legal vote."