By Ken Bredemeier
The top elections official in the southern U.S. state of Georgia on Wednesday ordered a hand audit of the close vote there between President Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden.
With almost all the votes counted in Georgia, Trump’s Democratic challenger for a four-year term in the White House is leading by 14,112 votes out of the nearly 5 million votes cast in the state.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, has said he wanted Trump to win the election, but pushed back against Republican claims that the Georgia vote count was plagued by irregularities. Georgia has not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1992.
As he announced the close inspection of the Georgia vote, Raffensperger surrounded himself by local election officials and voiced support and admiration for their work.
“Their job is hard. They executed their responsibilities, and they did their job,” Raffensperger said.
He said he will invite both Democratic and Republican observers to watch the recount because “the stakes are high.”
Ballots will be re-scanned on computers in the state, in addition to a human review of printed text on ballots, a process officials hope to complete by November 20.
“This will help build confidence,” Raffensperger said. “It will be an audit, a recount and a recanvass, all at once.”
According to unofficial vote counts throughout the United States, Biden has already won the popular vote in enough states to amass more than the 270-vote majority needed in the 538-member Electoral College to claim victory. The Electoral College is determinative in deciding U.S. presidential elections, not the national popular vote, although the most populous states hold the most sway in the Electoral College.
U.S. national news media have not declared the winner in Georgia, where 16 electoral votes are at stake, nor in the western state of Arizona, where Biden is leading by 12,813 votes and 11 electoral votes are at stake.