This post was updated at 6 p.m. Nov. 20 to include remarks from the governor.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger certified the presidential election results Friday, confirming President-elect Joe Biden’s win over President Donald Trump.
The official results have Biden edging out Trump by 12,670 votes, with the former vice president’s 2.47 million votes to Trump’s 2.46 million. The certification comes after Raffensperger ordered a full hand count of the 5 million ballots cast in the election with the audit showing no significant difference from the original electronic tally.
Republican Gov. Brian Kemp said Friday evening that he signed off on the results, but is critical of how the process is playing out, including why it took an audit to uncover about 5,900 missing votes in Fayette, Floyd, Walton and Douglas counties, which netted Trump 1,400 votes.
Kemp said he’ll push for some changes to election law in the next legislative session, including requiring photo IDs for every absentee ballot.
“We demand complete explanations for all discrepancies identified, so that our citizens will have complete confidence in our elections in the runoff election,” Kemp said during an update livestreamed from the Capitol. “We cannot have lost memory cards or stacks of uncounted ballots. We must have full transparency in all monitoring and counting.”
Raffensperger said regardless of which party is complaining about the outcome and the election system’s integrity, the hand count verifies that the state’s new electronic voting system is working correctly. The state’s top election official has drawn fire from Trump and other Republicans for moving forward with the certification process with the White House on the line. Biden is the first Democratic presidential candidate to win Georgia since Bill Clinton in 1992.
“The numbers reflect the verdict of the people, not a decision by the secretary of state’s office or of courts, or by other campaigns,” Raffensperger said at a Friday morning press conference at the state Capitol. “I want to do everything I can to build voters’ trust in our electoral system.”
Trump has until Tuesday to request a recount because of the thin margin. This time the recount would entail running paper ballots through a high-speed scanner to see if they align with the certified results.
Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani said Thursday that the Trump campaign planned to file a “major lawsuit” contesting the election results in Georgia.
Raffensperger announced Friday that he plans to advocate for election legislation next session to require photo ID verification for Georgians voting absentee.
Raffensperger wants to look for more ineligible voters who should be struck from the rolls because they left Georgia or otherwise ran afoul of registration rules. He also wants to give his office the power to step in when counties can’t solve election problems.
“The audit revealed that in some counties, not all the votes, have been counted,” Raffensperger said. “That doesn’t mean those counties had systemic problems, but it does raise a concern. We must implement a reconciliation process that prevents such errors from happening in the future.”
While Trump has more opportunities to challenge the results in court and keep attention on the presidential campaign, early voting starts Dec. 14 for the Jan. 5 U.S. Senate runoffs pitting Republican Sen. David Perdue against Democrat Jon Ossoff and GOP Sen. Kelly Loeffler against Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock.
The outcome of those races could determine which party controls the U.S. Senate.