Georgia’s chief election official announces hand recount of presidential results

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Georgia’s chief election official announced Wednesday that the state will conduct a recount by hand of every ballot cast in the presidential race, with President-elect Joe Biden narrowly leading President Donald Trump in the state’s vote count.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, said that he would designate the presidential contest as the race to undergo a “risk-limiting audit,” an election verification procedure that uses a statistical formula to determine how many electronically tabulated ballots need to be manually checked in order to rule out the possibility of fraud or errors.

“With the margin being so close, it will require a full, by-hand recount in each county,” Raffensperger said. “It will be an audit, a recount and a recanvass all at once.”

In risk-limiting audits, every ballot is not necessarily examined for accuracy. But, because of the closeness of the presidential race, that is what will happen to every ballot in Georgia. Raffensperger said the margin between Biden and Trump is currently just 14,111 votes.

“When you have five million votes and the margin is so close … mathematically, you actually have to do a full, hand-by-hand recount of all [the ballots],” Raffensperger said, noting that other races with different margins wouldn’t require examination of every ballot.

Raffensperger has been under significant criticism from fellow Georgia Republicans in recent days, as GOP officials mimic Trump’s attempts to undermine faith in the election results. Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler both called on Raffensperger to resign, claiming without providing specific allegations that there were widespread irregularities in the election.

Raffensperger had previously said he would not resign, and he defended the integrity of Georgia’s election.

“It’ll take every bit of the time we have left, for sure. It is a big lift,” Raffensperger said Wednesday, noting that the state’s certification deadline is on Nov. 20. He noted that, following the deadline, a candidate could request a recount if the margin is within a half a percentage point. But that recount would be conducted using scanners, not by hand.

Eric Geller contributed to this report.

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