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Biden maintains his lead over Trump as Georgia recount ends

Gwinnett County election workers handle ballots as part of the recount for the 2020 presidential election at the Beauty P. Baldwin Voter Registrations and Elections Building on November 16, 2020 in Lawrenceville, Georgia.
Gwinnett County election workers handle ballots as part of the recount for the 2020 presidential election at the Beauty P. Baldwin Voter Registrations and Elections Building on November 16, 2020 in Lawrenceville, Georgia.Megan Varner/Getty

Georgia officials completed a recount of the state’s Nov. 3 presidential vote that showed President-elect Joe Biden keeping his lead in the state, dealing another setback to President Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the election results.

The hand recount of the state’s 5 million votes that began Friday was ordered after the initial count found Biden ahead by 14,156 votes, or about 0.3 percentage points.

While the recount revealed uncounted ballots in four counties that bolstered Trump’s count, it wasn’t enough to change the outcome of the race, which was called for Biden last week, making him the first Democrat to carry Georgia since Bill Clinton in 1992.

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Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, who ordered the recount of the presidential contest to reassure voters that the election had been conducted fairly, has until the end of the day Friday to certify the election results. Governor Brian Kemp would then sign off on a slate of electors.

Once the votes are certified, state law allows the Trump campaign to ask for another recount, given the narrow margins. The campaign has until Nov. 24 to make that request.

That recount would require counties to put paper ballots through scanners again, instead of the just-completed tally by hand. Only a court can order the state’s counties to count the ballots by hand again.

Trump’s effort to reverse the results of the election has involved lawsuits and demands for recounts in several states.

In Georgia, the election and its aftermath have pitted Republican against Republican, as the Trump campaign and his supporters said without evidence that the vote was rigged.

Georgia’s U.S. Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, who are defending their seats in a highly competitive runoff election in January that could determine control of the Senate, called for Raffensperger’s resignation last week, citing unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud.

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Raffensperger has defended the integrity of the vote. In an interview on Tuesday he criticized what he called a “campaign of misinformation, disinformation and outright lies about the process in Georgia.”

The secretary of state said Trump’s frequent and unsubstantiated accusations that mail-in voting is ripe for fraud may have cost him the state, as Republicans refrained from using absentee ballots.

Trump and his allies have also filed lawsuits in Georgia. One, alleging that fewer than 60 absentee ballots in Chatham County were improperly counted, has already been dismissed, while another that seeks to stop the state from certifying results is pending.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.