President-elect Joe Biden, accompanied by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, speaks at The Queen theater, Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President-elect Joe Biden speaks at The Queen theater in Wilmington, Del., Nov. 19, 2020.

The governor of the U.S. state of Georgia along with the state’s top elections official affirmed results on Friday showing that President-elect Joe Biden won the state’s presidential election, after its mandatory hand recount of ballots was completed on Thursday.

“Working as an engineer throughout my life, I live by the motto that numbers don’t lie,” Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said at a news conference Friday in Atlanta. “As secretary of state, I believe that the numbers that we have presented today are correct. The numbers reflect the verdict of the people, not a decision by the secretary of state’s office or of courts or of either campaign.”

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger speaks during a news conference, Nov. 20, 2020, in Atlanta.

Republican Governor Brian Kemp said in a news conference later Friday that the law requires him to “formalize the certification” of the election results.

Kemp stopped short of fully endorsing the results and noted that the certification “paves the way for the Trump campaign to pursue other legal options and a separate recount if they choose.”

An initial recount was part of an audit ordered by Raffensperger, a Republican and self-described proud supporter of President Donald Trump, under a new state law, which required Raffensperger to certify the results by 5 p.m. local time on Friday.

“Like other Republicans, I’m disappointed our candidate didn’t win Georgia’s electoral votes,” Raffensperger told reporters.

Trump has claimed without evidence that the presidential vote in Georgia was tainted by fraud.

The recount produced some insignificant differences from the previous machine count, but no single county showed a margin variation greater than 0.73%, according to the office of the secretary of state. The margin in 103 of the state’s 159 counties was less than 0.05%.

The recount was unofficial, but the Trump campaign can request an official recount following a certification of the state’s results.

In addition to affirming the recount, Raffensperger called Friday for legislation to enhance the state’s voting system, including requiring photo identification for absentee voting and conducting audits in counties that have systemic problems administering elections.

The recount, finalized more than two weeks after Biden was declared the winner of the November 3 presidential election, confirmed an extraordinary win for Democrats in the state. A Democratic presidential candidate had not won Georgia since Bill Clinton’s victory in 1992, nearly 25 years before Trump captured the state by 5 percentage points in 2016 over Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Biden’s win in Georgia gives him an additional 16 electoral votes, boosting his total to 306, well ahead of Trump’s 232.

The U.S. employs an indirect form of democracy, not a national popular vote, to pick its leaders. The outcome is effectively decided in state-by-state elections throughout the 50-state country and the national capital, Washington, D.C. The winner needs a majority of 270 electoral votes in the 538-member Electoral College.

What Happens Next?

What It Means to Become President-Elect in the US

In the United States, Democrat Joe Biden is being called the president-elect.

President-elect is a descriptive term not an official office. As such, Biden has no power in the government, and he would not until he is inaugurated at noon on January 20, 2021.

American news networks, which track all of the vote counting, determined on November 7 that Biden’s lead had become insurmountable in Pennsylvania, putting him over the 270 electoral votes needed to be president. Within minutes of determining his lead was mathematically assured, they projected him as the winner.

That is why news organizations, including VOA, are calling Biden the "projected winner."

Sometimes, in the case of particularly close elections, when news networks make this call, the other candidate does not concede victory. President Donald Trump has not done so, alleging voter fraud without substantial evidence and vowing to fight on. The president’s position has left Washington lawmakers divided, with Republicans backing a legal inquiry into allegations of vote fraud, even as they celebrate other congressional lawmakers who won their races.

When will the dispute be resolved?

The U.S. election won’t be officially certified for weeks. In the meantime, court challenges and state recounts could occur.

So far, the Trump administration has not provided evidence for any fraud that could overturn the result, but there is still time for more legal challenges.

Once states have certified the vote, pledged electors then cast their votes in the Electoral College in mid-December. Congress then certifies the overall Electoral College result in early January, about two weeks before Inauguration Day.