November 30, 2020

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The US presidential election result that handed the battleground state of Georgia to Joe Biden will be certified after counties meet a recount deadline on Wednesday, a Democratic campaign aide predicted.

Gwinnett county election workers handle ballots as part of the recount for the 2020 presidential election.

Gwinnett county election workers handle ballots as part of the recount for the 2020 presidential election. Photograph: Megan Varner/Getty Images

“The current status as we understand it is that all of Georgia’s 159 counties will meet the state’s deadline of midnight today and will have their results certified,” said Biden campaign legal adviser Patrick Moore on a call with reporter, Reuters and The Associated Press are reporting.

The hand recount of nearly 5 million votes stems from an audit required by a new state law and wasn’t in response to any suspected problems with the state’s results or an official recount request. The law requires the audit to be done before the counties’ certified results can be certified by the state.

The deadline for the counties to complete the audit is 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, ahead of the Friday deadline for state certification. Gabriel Sterling, who oversaw the implementation of the state’s new voting system for the secretary of state’s office, said he expects the counties to meet that deadline.

The hand count is meant to ensure that the state’s new election machines accurately tabulated the votes and isn’t expected to change the overall outcome, state election officials have repeatedly said.

Going into the count, Democrat Joe Biden led Republican president Donald Trump by a margin of about 14,000 votes. Previously uncounted ballots discovered in four counties Douglas, Fayette, Floyd and Walton during the hand count will reduce that margin to about 12,800, Sterling said.

Once the results are certified, if the margin between the candidates remains within 0.5%, the losing campaign can request a recount. That would be done using scanners that read and tally the votes and would be paid for by the counties, Sterling said.

A law passed last year requires the audit but leaves it up to the secretary of state to select the race to be audited. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said he chose the presidential race because of its significance and tight margin. Because of the close results, he said, a full hand recount would be needed to complete the audit.

Over the two weeks since the election, Raffensperger has been under attack from fellow Republicans, from the president on down.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. Photograph: Brynn Anderson/AP