ATLANTA — A massive undertaking of hand counting 5 million ballots solidly 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 late Friday.
But immense pressure and pushback from President Trump's campaign and Georgia Republicans has made Raffensperger a party target.
In a brief press conference Friday, Raffensperger — a well-known Republican — 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 even November general election were riddled with problems on 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.
Ultimately, elections are carried out on a 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.”
The Republican said he would also push various other election reform measures during the next legislative session that would require photo identification for mail-in ballot voting and create additional barriers to individuals who are suspected of not living where they are registered to vote.
Georgia’s secretary of state took unprecedented steps to make absentee or mail-in ballot voting accessible to Peach State residents due to the ongoing pandemic. The steps led to use of the voting method unlike anything the state has ever seen. Top elections officials to county elections workers grappled with how to handle the more than one million votes that poured in — many before Election Day itself.
"Other states that have to vote by mail systems did that over a period of years,” Raffensperger said. “We did it in months."