(The Center Square) – Georgia's original results in the U.S. presidential election align with the hand recount and audit results, with both showing presumptive President-elect Joe Biden won the state.
According to the hand count results released Thursday night by Georgia elections officials, Biden secured a 12,284-vote win over President Donald Trump. The initial results showed Biden had a lead of 14,111 votes.
"Georgia's historic first statewide audit reaffirmed that the state's new secure paper ballot voting system accurately counted and reported results," Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said. "This is a credit to the hard work of our county and local elections officials who moved quickly to undertake and complete such a momentous task in a short period of time."
Raffensperger called for a hand recount and audit of the ballots cast in the presidential election last week. Because the race was so close and almost 5 million votes were cast in the race, Raffensperger said a full hand recount of every vote is statistically necessary to correctly determine the winner and said the hand recount would be "an audit, a recount and a recanvass all at once."
Voting system implementation manager Gabriel Sterling, however, said Tuesday that state law will not allow them to change the election's certified results, which are submitted by precincts.
Four counties found more than 5,000 new votes during the hand tally that were not recorded with the initial results. Workers found 2,600 unscanned votes in Floyd County, which fired its chief elections clerk Thursday over the uncounted votes. Raffensperger previously asked the chief clerk, Robert Brady, to step down. Votes also were discovered on memory cards in Douglas, Fayette and Walton counties.
Raffensperger's office said Thursday that most counties had no changes in their final tally and other counties had changes of fewer than 10 ballots. The highest error rate in any county recount was 0.73%, which is below the expected margin of error of 2%, according to a Rice University study.
The election results must be certified by the state by Friday. The candidates can ask for a recount once the certification is complete.
Trump campaign attorney and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani announced Thursday before the recount results were released that the campaign plans to file a lawsuit in Georgia.
"In the city of Atlanta, Republicans were not allowed to watch the absentee mail-in ballot process. Inspections completely cast aside, and we have numerous double voters. We have numerous out of state voters, and we have specific evidence of intimidation and changes of votes. That will all be in the lawsuit that comes out tomorrow," Giuliani said.
Raffensperger's office has launched investigations into the fraud claims it has have received. Monitors claimed they were asked to leave or were not present when votes were counted in Fulton County. Investigators also are reviewing votes cast by former felons to verify whether the state legally restored the voter's rights.
"Georgia's first statewide audit successfully confirmed the winner of the chosen contest and should give voters increased confidence in the results," said Ben Adida, executive director of VotingWorks. "We were proud to work with Georgia on this historic audit. The difference between the reported results and the full manual tally is well within the expected error rate of hand-counting ballots, and the audit was a success."