Georgia announces manual recount of ballots
President-elect Joe Biden. EFE-EPA/Tracie Van Auken/File
Election workers count ballots in Atlanta, Georgia, on Nov. 4, 2020. EFE-EPA/Erik S. Lesser
Washington, Nov 11 (efe-epa).- The state of Georgia announced Wednesday that it will perform a manual recount of all ballots cast in last week's presidential election because of the narrow advantage held at present by President-elect Joe Biden over incumbent President Donald Trump.
At a press conference, Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced the decision and said that he expects the process to be completed by Nov. 20, the deadline for certifying the election results in the southeastern state.
"We will work with the counties to get this done in time for our state certification," Raffensperger said on the steps of the state Capitol. "We have all worked hard to bring fair and accurate counts to assure that the will of the voters is reflected in the final count and that every voter will have confidence in the outcome, whether their candidate won or lost."
With 99 percent of the ballots counted, Biden is currently leading in the state's ongoing vote tally by 14,112, a 0.3 percent advantage over Trump.
Georgia authorities had predicted last week that the result of the election in their state would be so tight that a recount would have to be performed, almost certainly requested by whichever campaign lost there.
However, Raffensperger confirmed on Wednesday that there would be two recounts and that the first of them will begin immediately and be a manual recount of all ballots cast in Georgia.
If that process confirms that the margin of victory of the winning candidate is less than 0.5 percent, the loser's campaign will have the right, under state law, to request a new count of the ballots, which would mean scanning them all again by computer, he said.
The manual recount will affect the almost five million votes cast in Georgia for the Nov. 3 election and will mean reviewing each ballot and once again placing them into piles to corroborate the machine count.
That process will be combined with an audit of the results that was already scheduled and which instead of being performed on just a sample of the ballots will now be performed on all the ballots cast.
Raffensperger thus responded to pressure from the Trump campaign, which had asked for a manual count of the ballots and complained - albeit without providing any evidence - that fraud had been committed in the election in Georgia and other key states, including an unproven allegation that certain Georgia residents voted in place of deceased voters.
Raffensperger, who is a Republican, went on to say that no evidence of generalized election fraud had been found, but nevertheless Georgia election authorities will investigate each alleged instance brought to them by voters.
Even if Georgia ultimately were found to have voted for Trump, Biden would still have at least 290 electoral votes, 20 more than are needed to win the presidency, compared with the 217 that Trump has at present.
Georgia is also crucial in terms of defining the makeup of the Senate, where Republicans won or retained 50 seats and Democrats 48.
There are two Senate runoff elections in Georgia, where Democrats are running against incumbent Republicans, and if both seats were to be won by the challengers this would flip the Senate to Democratic control, given that Vice President Kamala Harris would be able to cast tiebreaking votes.
Everything, however, points to the strong possibility that the GOP will retain control of the upper house, but that will not be confirmed until Jan. 5, when the Georgia runoff elections will be held for those two Senate seats, given that no candidate received more than 50 percent of the votes in the Nov. 3 balloting.
Biden widens popular vote margin as Trump tries to delegitimize his win
(Updates: Releads, rewrites)
By Lucia Leal
Washington, Nov 11 (efe-epa).- President-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday exceeded a five million vote advantage over Donald Trump in the Nov. 3 election, while the outgoing president continued to try and delegitimize his win, using the power of the federal government to attempt to do so.
With 77.4 million ballots cast in his favor against 72.3 million cast for Trump, Biden expanded his victory margin even more, making him the presidential candidate to receive the most votes in history.
Those ballots also translate into a win in the Electoral College, according to projections by the main US media outlets, which made their calls for Biden when it became clear that he had an insuperable advantage in the number of states in which he had defeated Trump to guarantee himself the presidency.
Trump, however, has refused to recognize his defeat and has complained without evidence about alleged election fraud, simultaneously pursuing a legal strategy that experts say has little chance of success, something that his main advisors also acknowledge in private.
The president on Wednesday was able on Wednesday to add Alaska's three electoral votes to his column for a total of 217 at present, but he is still far from the 270 votes he would need to win reelection. Biden, on the other hand, has 290 votes, above the threshold to ensure his own victory.
To nullify Biden's win, Trump would have to prove fraud in the courts and reverse the results in multiple key states, a scenario that seasoned political observers and legal experts say is extremely improbable.
Georgia state authorities, where the media have not yet proclaimed a presidential winner but Biden has a 14,000-vote advantage with about 99 percent of the ballots counted, on Wednesday gave Trump a bit of good news by announcing that they will perform a manual vote recount of the more than five million ballots cast in their state.
Doing this will help to "build confidence" among the public that the election result in Georgia is legitimate, said Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger at a press conference.
The hand recount, which must be completed by Nov. 20, is an unprecedented step in Georgia history, a state that has traditionally voted Republican, but Trump's chances of turning the vote count around are slim and even if he did he would still not be over the 270 Electoral College threshhold.
A legal advisor for the Trump campaign, Jenna Ellis, said Wednesday in an interview with Fox Business that the lawsuits filed by the president's team should be resolved in the next two weeks, at the latest, before the key states have to certify an election winner.
In the face of the apparent fruitlessness of his legal strategy, Trump evidently has also decided to use his presidential power within the federal government to make the transfer of power as difficult as possible, with 10 weeks to go before Biden will be sworn in on Jan. 20.
The most alarming step for many was taken by Trump on Tuesday when he continued his purge at the Pentagon after on Monday firing Defense Secretary Mark Esper, and placing three of his own allies within the top civilian leadership of the department.
The maneuver is an attempt to show muscle within the Defense Department and, according to sources consulted by CNN, a reprisal against Esper and his team for opposing Trump's promise to remove US troops from Afghanistan by Christmas.
Rumors in Washington point to a situation where Trump could be preparing more firings among top national security officials, including possibly FBI Director Christopher Wray and CIA Director Gina Haspel.
The CIA chief on Tuesday received support from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who met with her in Washington, according to CNN, as well as from another key conservative senator, John Cornyn.
Cornyn said in a tweet that US intelligence operations should not be partisan, responding to Trump's supporters who say that Haspel has not been sufficiently helpful to the president in his political battles.
Meanwhile, some Democrats are concerned about another situation: the transfer of Michael Ellis, a Trump loyalist on the White House National Security Council, to the National Security Agency, where he is the new general counsel.
That change implies that Ellis is now a civilian government employee and not a political appointee, and it makes firing him more difficult once Biden takes office in January, according to Democratic sources consulted by CNN.
Meanwhile, the General Services Administration, whose director, Emily Murphy, was appointed by Trump, had not certified Biden's victory, an omission that hinders his transition team from accessing resources and government agencies to prepare for the transfer of power.
Biden on Tuesday downplayed that fact, saying that he will continue preparing for the transition without those resources, and on Wednesday he remained silent on the matter because - just like Trump - he devoted the day to paying tribute to the country's former military personnel on Veterans Day.