Georgia hand count of votes affirms Biden's narrow victory over Trump

The Associated Press and Dartunorro Clark
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 Images

A hand tally of the presidential race in Georgia is complete, and the results affirm Democrat Joe Biden's lead over Republican President Donald Trump.

The hand recount of nearly 5 million votes stemmed from an audit required by a new state law and wasn't in response to any suspected problems with the state's results or an official recount request. The state has until Friday to certify the results that have been certified and submitted by the counties.

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Once the state certifies the election results, the losing campaign has two business days to request a recount if the margin remains within 0.5%. That recount would be done using scanners that read and tally the votes and would be paid for by the counties, Gabriel Sterling, who oversees Georgia's voting systems, said.

It was up to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to select the race to be audited, and he said the presidential race made the most sense because of its significance and the tight margin separating the candidates. Because of that small margin, Raffensperger said a full hand recount was necessary.

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Raffensperger, in a statement Thursday, said the results reaffirm the integrity of the state's election process.

"Georgia's historic first statewide audit reaffirmed that the state's new secure paper ballot voting system accurately counted and reported results," he 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."

In Georgia's recount, Raffensperger's office said in the statement, the highest error rate in any county recount was .73%. Most counties saw no change in their final tally. The majority of the remaining counties had changes of fewer than ten ballots.

Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden arrives onstage for a drive-in campaign rally in the parking lot of Cellairis Ampitheatre on October 27, 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia.
Drew Angerer | Getty Images

Going into the hand tally, Biden led Trump by a margin of about 14,000 votes. Previously uncounted ballots discovered in four counties during the hand count will reduce that margin to about 12,800, Sterling said.

Data released Thursday as part of the audit showed Biden's lead reduced from 12, 780 to 12,284 votes, with 496 votes going to Trump.

Other counties found slight differences in results as they did their hand counts, and state election officials had consistently said that was to be expected.

NBC News has projected Biden as the winner.