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Georgia governor says he will certify election results, giving Trump campaign 'other legal options'

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) said on Friday that he would certify his state's election results, formalizing President-election Joe Biden's victory in the state. 

In a brief speech, Kemp acknowledged that he is bound by state law to accept the certified election results. But at no point in his remarks did he acknowledge Biden as the president-elect, and he noted that certifying the results would give President Trump "other legal options" including the ability to request a new recount.

"State law now requires the governor's office to formalize the certification, which paves the way for the Trump campaign to pursue other legal options and a separate recount if they choose," Kemp said.

The governor's remarks came just an hour after Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) certified the results of the Nov. 3 general election. Those results show Biden leading Trump by more than 12,000 votes, making him the first Democratic presidential nominee since 1992 to carry Georgia.

Trump has so far refused to concede the presidential election to Biden and has propagated false claims of widespread voter fraud and systemic irregularities in an effort to sow doubt in the results.

Georgia state law allows candidates to request a recount if an election is decided by 0.5 percentage points or less. Biden currently leads Trump by about a quarter of a percentage point. With the election results certified, the Trump campaign now has until Tuesday to request a recount.

The certification of the results in Georgia came after a days-long hand recount of nearly 5 million votes. The recount did little to change the final tally and an audit of the vote found no signs of fraud or foul play. 

But the recount did uncover some significant flaws in the state's elections 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. Officials also discovered 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.

In his remarks on Friday, Kemp spoke critically of the elections process and called on Raffensperger to address "concerns" about the system. He also threw his support behind a photo ID requirement for voters who cast absentee ballots.

"Voters casting their ballots in person must show a photo ID, and we should consider applying that same standard to mail-in balloting," Kemp said.

Kemp, who has come under fire from Trump in recent days over the election results, treaded lightly in his remarks. He noted that it was his official duty to certify the election results, while also staying quiet about Biden's victory in the state and stoking concerns about the elections process.

He said at one point that while "the vast majority of local election workers did their jobs well under unprecedented circumstances," the flaws exposed through the hand recount and audit process were "simply unacceptable."

"It is quite honestly hard to believe that during the audit, thousands of uncounted ballots were found weeks after a razor-thin outcome in a presidential election," Kemp said. "This is simply unacceptable."

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