ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10/CNN) — Georgia has finished its statewide audit of the election, confirming that President-elect Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump, according to a news release from the Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office.

The audit’s final results showed Biden beat Trump by 12,284 vote. This is a slight drop for Biden compared to the pre-audit results.

Officials have said repeatedly that the audit confirmed there was no widespread fraud or irregularities in the election.

Georgia is required under state law to certify its election results by Friday.

“Georgia’s historic first statewide audit reaffirmed that the state’s new secure paper ballot voting system accurately counted and reported results,” Raffensperger, a Republican, said in a statement.

“This is a credit to the hard work of our county and local elections officials who moved quickly to undertake and complete such a momentous task in a short period of time.”

The Biden campaign’s communications director for Georgia, Jaclyn Rothenberg, said in a statement Thursday evening that the recount outcome, “simply reaffirmed what we already knew: Georgia voters selected Joe Biden to be their next president.”

“We are grateful to the election officials, volunteers and workers for working overtime and under unprecedented circumstances to complete this recount, as the utmost form of public service,” she said.

The state is now the center of the political universe, because the two US Senate runoff elections will determine which political party controls the Senate.

The President has continued to tweet unsubstantiated complaints about voting software used in the state and objected to the recount as “fake” by tweeting unsupported claims about the state’s signature-matching process.

Gabriel Sterling, Georgia’s voting system implementation manager, explained to CNN’s Anderson Cooper on “AC360” Thursday that “one of the main things that you’re looking for when you do this hand audit is to make sure that the items you see on the paper, on the ballot” match what the computer says.

“Human beings are looking because, as you know, one of the big complaints is these machines somehow flipped votes or changed votes or did stuff. They didn’t, at least not in Georgia,” Sterling said. “We proved it.”

During the weeklong recount, officials in four counties found new batches of votes that weren’t counted on Election Day or weren’t properly transmitted to the Secretary of State for tallying.  According to Raffensperger’s release, “The audit process also led to counties catching making mistakes they made in their original count by not uploading all memory cards. Those counties uploaded the memory cards and re-certified their results, leading to increased accuracy in the results the state will certify.”

It also said, “The highest error rate in any county recount was .73%. Most counties found no change in their finally tally. The majority of the remaining counties had changes of fewer than ten ballots.”

In all, more than 5,800 uncounted votes were uncovered, netting nearly 1,400 new votes for Trump, who said the discoveries were proof of wrongdoing. State officials stressed that these were accidents caused by human error and not indicative of fraud or vote-rigging.

Raffensperger’s office called the difference between the audit results and the original machine-counted results “well within the expected margin of human error that occurs when hand-counting ballots.”

Ben Adida — the executive director of the election security nonprofit VotingWorks, which assisted Georgia with the audit — said in a statement, “Georgia’s first statewide audit successfully confirmed the winner of the chosen contest and should give voters increased confidence in the results.”

Raffensperger has come under fire from both Trump and the state’s sitting GOP senators, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, who called on him to resign after accusing him of failing to “deliver honest and transparent elections.”

Raffensperger told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Wednesday that the state has “not seen widespread voter fraud.” When asked about the attacks from Trump and members of his own party, he defended his credentials as a “lifelong Republican” and “conservative Christian Republican.”

“I’m going to make sure we count every legal, lawful vote and we’re not going to count any illegal votes,” Raffensperger said. “My record will stand on itself. We have done a great job.”

Governor’s signature needed to finalize Biden’s win

While Raffensperger is expected to certify the results on Friday morning, there is one more step in the process: Republican Gov. Brian Kemp has until 5 p.m. ET Saturday to sign the paperwork that officially grants Georgia’s 16 electors to Biden, according to state law.

CNN has asked Kemp’s office if he plans to do this without incident.

State law says the governor “shall certify the slates of presidential electors receiving the highest number of votes,” and it’s unclear what options Kemp would have to avoid signing the paperwork.

Kemp has been relatively quiet during the audit process, but he released a statement before the audit urging Raffensperger to “take a serious look at any and all voting irregularity allegations that have been made.”

Trump has mentioned Kemp in at least six tweets since Election Day, encouraging him to “get tough” and make the state “flip Republican.” He also encouraged Kemp to “take charge” after it became clear the audit wasn’t uncovering widespread irregularities.

In other tweets, the President has struck a more hostile tone, blaming Kemp for a legal agreement the state reached earlier this year with Democratic groups regarding absentee ballots. Raffensperger’s office has said Trump is mischaracterizing the agreement, known as a consent decree, which he falsely claimed weakened verification rules for absentee ballots.

©2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. CNN contributed to the story.

 

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