President-elect Joe Biden won Georgia by 12,284 votes, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger's office said late Thursday, relaying the results of a six-day statewide hand recount of the 5 million ballots cast. Raffensperger plans to certify the results Friday, as required by law, effectively handing Biden Georgia's 16 electoral votes. President Trump won Georgia in 2016. The hand recount and audit of election returns in Georgia's 159 counties turned up nearly 6,000 unreported votes in four counties, and Trump gained about 1,400 votes when those were properly tallied. After the recount's results were released, The Associated Press joined other news organizations and declared Biden winner of the state, giving him a projected Electoral College win of 306 to 232.
Trump's campaign vowed to continue contesting the state, and the margin of defeat does allow for a taxpayer-funded machine recount, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.
The Trump campaign's demand for a second round of signature-matching — election workers verified the signatures when absentee ballots were received — would be "impossible during recounts because ballot envelopes can't be traced back to ballots," the Journal-Constitution notes. "The Georgia Constitution guarantees ballot secrecy."
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Both Biden and Trump gained in counties where overlooked ballots were discovered, mostly due to county election officials failing to upload memory cards on election night, but Trump gained more votes. No county had an error rate of more than 0.73 percent, the Journal-Constitution reports, and 126 counties were within 10 votes of their original count; 54 counties recorded the exact same results in the original count and after the hand recount. The Trump campaign's legal avenues in Georgia have all but evaporated, and its efforts to slow down certification are faltering in several key states. U.S. District Judge Steven Grimberg, a Trump appointee, rejected an attempt Thursday to block Georgia from finalizing its results due to lack of demonstrable improprieties.
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