ATLANTA (CN) – Hours after President Donald Trump’s attorneys announced plans for a new voter fraud lawsuit in Georgia, election officials in the Peach State reaffirmed President-elect Joe Biden’s victory over Trump following a hand tally of nearly 5 million ballots cast in the presidential race.
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office verified Thursday evening after a statewide audit that Biden defeated Trump in Georgia by a margin of 12,284 votes. Raffensperger certified the results Friday.
“Georgia’s historic first statewide audit reaffirmed that the state’s new secure paper ballot voting system accurately counted and reported results,” Raffensperger said. “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.”
Biden is the first Democratic presidential candidate to win the state since 1992.
During a press conference in Washington earlier in the day, President Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani announced that the campaign will file a “major lawsuit” in Georgia as soon as Friday.
“In the city of Atlanta, Republicans were not allowed to watch the absentee mail-in ballot process. Inspections completely cast aside. And we have numerous double voters. We have numerous out of state voters. And we have specific evidence of intimidation and changes of votes,” Giuliani said.
In a tweet Thursday, President Trump said his attorneys are laying out “an open and shut case of voter fraud.”
Georgia election officials have repeatedly denied evidence of widespread fraud.
A lawsuit filed by the Trump campaign in Georgia earlier this month alleging that Chatham County officials failed to follow correct procedures for counting absentee ballots was dismissed for lack of evidence.
Georgia poll workers began the hand recount of ballots on Nov. 13 as part of a risk-limiting audit required by a state law passed in 2019 that also rolled out new voting machines. Under the law, Raffensperger was required to conduct an audit of a statewide race following the November elections.
The audit was not in response to any official recount request or to suspected inaccuracies in the state’s results.
Raffensperger decided that the presidential race should be audited due to its national significance and the tight margin between the candidates.
The audit was conducted by poll workers in Georgia’s 159 counties, who reviewed each ballot by hand.
Unscanned or missing votes were discovered in four counties, but the issues were caused by human error rather than fraud.
Gabriel Sterling, the state’s voting system implementation manager, called the recount “the largest hand retallying by audit in the history of the United States” last week.
Giuliani said Thursday the results of the recount are irrelevant.
“The recount being done in Georgia will tell us nothing because these fraudulent ballots will just be counted again because they wouldn’t supply the signatures to match the ballots,” he said.
Absentee ballot signatures are checked by election workers when the ballots are received. However, signature matching cannot be performed during recounts because ballot envelopes are not traceable back to ballots for secrecy reasons.
Giuliani did not provide any specific examples of fraud Thursday.
State officials have until Friday to certify the election results.
Since the margin between the candidates is less than 0.5%, President Donald Trump’s campaign can request a recount which would be conducted by rescanning all paper ballots and would be paid for by the counties.