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Georgia certifies election results, making Biden win official

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) certified the results of the state’s presidential election on Friday, a step that will make President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenPennsylvania Supreme Court strikes down GOP bid to stop election certification Biden looks to career officials to restore trust, morale in government agencies Biden transition adds new members to coronavirus task force MORE’s victory there official after a days-long hand recount and ongoing efforts by President TrumpDonald John TrumpPennsylvania Supreme Court strikes down GOP bid to stop election certification Biden looks to career officials to restore trust, morale in government agencies Sunday shows preview: US health officials brace for post-holiday COVID-19 surge MORE to sow doubt in the election results.

The announcement that the vote had been certified by Raffensperger was the second such announcement in a matter of hours. The secretary of state’s office said earlier on Friday that the vote had been certified, only to retract that claim soon after, noting that a staffer had sent out the statement in error.

The vote certification came less than a day after the results of the hand recount confirmed Biden's lead in Georgia, giving the president-elect a 12,284-vote edge over Trump and making him the first Democratic presidential candidate to win the state since 1992.

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Biden was declared the winner in Georgia and the overall presidential race earlier this month after amassing a clear Electoral College majority. But Trump has so far refused to concede the election and has continued to propagate the false claim that the results were tainted by widespread voter fraud and systemic irregularities.

Raffensperger, a Republican, has come under fire from members of his own party for defending the accuracy of the vote tally in Georgia. He alleged this week that Republicans had sought to pressure him to toss out legal ballots in an effort to swing the election in Trump’s favor.

Speaking at a news conference on Friday morning, Raffensperger called himself a “proud Trump supporter” and acknowledged his disappointment in the president’s defeat, but reiterated his confidence in the vote count and vowed to certify the results of the election.

“Numbers don’t lie. As secretary of state, I believe the numbers that we have presented today are correct,” Raffensperger said. “The numbers reflect the verdict of the people.”

The audit of the state’s vote turned up no evidence of fraud or foul play. It did, however, uncover several flaws in the voting system. Election workers in three counties found more than 3,300 votes stored on memory cards that had not been previously uploaded to state election computers.

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Officials also discovered a trove of about 2,600 ballots in deep-red Floyd County that had previously gone unscanned. That discovery led to the county board of elections voting unanimously on Thursday to oust its chief elections clerk.

Raffensperger was required by law to certify the election results by 5 p.m. on Friday. With that step out of the way, the results now go to Gov. Brian KempBrian KempTrump addresses pandemic but not election during annual turkey pardon Chris Christie: Trump's legal team has been 'a national embarrassment' Media and Hollywood should stop their marching-to-Georgia talk MORE (R) who has until 5 p.m. on Saturday to accept them.

With the results of the election certified, the Trump campaign will have until Tuesday to request a recount. Georgia law allows for a candidate to request a recount if the election is decided by 0.5 percentage points or less. Biden and Trump are currently separated by about a quarter of a percentage point.

Unlike the hand recount initiated by Raffensperger last week, however, a new recount would involve ballots being rescanned by machines rather tallied by individual election workers.

—Updated at 4:27 p.m.