It’s official: The state of Georgia has certified Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump.
Georgia became the first swing state Biden won to certify its results Friday, as Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger made it official that Biden beat Trump by a little over 12,000 votes. By margin, it’s the closest of any swing state — about 0.26 percentage points.
Georgia’s Republican governor, Brian Kemp, has called a press conference with an “election update” at 5 o’clock pm Eastern. Brendan Keefe, a journalist for WXIA in Atlanta, reports that Kemp will announce then that he is certifying the appointment of Biden’s electors — the next step in the process.
“Working as an engineer throughout my life, I live by the motto that numbers don’t lie,” Raffensperger said at a press conference Friday morning. “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.”
Ordinarily, certification would be a formality. But President Trump has been making an unprecedented effort to interfere with the mechanics of electoral democracy in the United States, by trying to block the certification of results in states Biden won, making baseless claims of fraud.
There was a bit of confusion earlier Friday, as Georgia’s secretary of state office announced midday that the results had been certified, but said a little over an hour later that that announcement was erroneous and the certification hadn’t happened yet. But around 4 pm Eastern Friday, the office confirmed in a new release that it they made it official.
What comes next in Georgia
The next step in the process must come from Gov. Brian Kemp (R), who must certify the appointment of Biden’s electors — the actual people who will cast the Electoral College votes for the state in December. An announcement will likely come on that soon.
President Trump has attacked both Kemp and Raffensperger on Twitter, making false allegations of fraud and complaining that they are abiding by the certification deadlines set in state law. “Governor Kemp will hopefully see the light before it is too late. Must finally take charge!” Trump tweeted.
Additionally, even though the result has been certified, Trump has until Tuesday to ask for another recount in Georgia. Raffensperger already ordered, and the state carried out, a hand audit of all results in the state — but Trump can request a machine recount, which the state would pay for. No recount has ever erased anything close to a 12,000-vote lead, though, and even Trump has downplayed the chances that a recount would put him ahead.
Finally, Trump’s team has also been arguing that Republican legislatures in states Biden won should step in and appoint Trump electors, defying the will of voters. Such a maneuver would be legally dubious at best.
But Georgia is the rare close swing state where Republicans do control both the governorship and the state legislature, meaning that a partisan plot here would be at least theoretically conceivable. However, state legislature leaders have given no indication they’d try this yet. For now, Georgia’s 16 electoral votes appear on track to go to Biden.
This piece has been updated to reflect the most recent information from Georgia’s secretary of state office.