ATLANTA — A massive undertaking of hand counting 5 million ballots confirmed Joe Biden won the presidential tally in Georgia.
President-elect Biden came out on top of President Donald J. Trump by 12,670 votes when it was all said and done. The state's top election official, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, certified the results Friday.
But immense pressure and pushback from President Trump's campaign and Georgia Republicans has made Raffensperger, a Republican, a party target.
In a brief press conference Friday, Raffensperger reminded his critics he, too, is a “loyal Trump supporter” and “disappointed" in the results. But the outcome of the election doesn’t impact his job to uphold the will of Georgia voters, he said.
"Working as an engineer throughout my life, I live by the motto that numbers don't lie,” he said. "As secretary of state, I believe that the numbers that we 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."
Under Georgia law, Trump still has the ability to request another recount of the election within two business days.
The June primary and November general election were riddled with problems at the county level while elections workers navigated the state’s $104 million new voting system. Long lines plagued the primary, while batches of uncounted votes were discovered in at least four counties during the audit of the presidential election.
Such elections are carried out on the local level through county elections offices. Raffensperger said he will push legislation that allows the state to intervene in counties that have “systemic, ongoing” problems administering elections.
“Elections in our state are run by counties — some do it great and some don’t,” he said. “We need to have a remedy that allows the state to address problem areas and get those counties moving in the right direction.”
He said he would also push various other election reform measures during the next legislative session that would require photo identification for mail-in voting and create additional barriers to people who are suspected of not living where they are registered to vote.
The secretary of state's office took unprecedented steps to make absentee or mail-in voting accessible to Peach State residents due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The steps led to use of the mail-in voting method unlike anything the state has seen. County elections workers grappled with how to handle the more than 1 million votes that poured in, many before Election Day.
"Other states that have vote by mail systems did that over a period of years,” Raffensperger said. “We did it in months."
Riley Bunch covers the Georgia statehouse for CNHI’s newspapers and websites.