By Arul Louis
New York, Nov 20 (IANS) The US state of Georgia has completed an audit of the votes cast in the November 3 presidential election that confirmed Democrat Joe Biden as the winner by a razor-thin margin even after 5,771 ballots that had not been counted or not reported earlier showed up.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger announced the result of the audit on Thursday evening that showed Biden defeated President Donald Trump by 12,284 votes.
Biden was ahead by 0.25 per cent of the 4.94 million ballots cast in the state on November 3, and were hand-counted for the audit.
The state’s 16 electoral college votes were at stake.
Aftert the audit Biden’s lead was reduced by 1,375 votes when the 5,771 uncounted or misreported votes discovered during the audit were tallied.
“Georgia’s historic first statewide audit reaffirmed that the state’s new secure paper ballot voting system accurately counted and reported results,” Raffensperger said.
Trump and his campaign said that they would continue to challenge results in courts, claiming illegal votes were being counted.
“We intend to pursue all legal options to ensure that only legal ballots are counted,” Jenna Ellis, a Trump campaign senior lawyer said.
The Trump campaign also wants the signatures on the postal ballots matched with those on record, she added.
Biden criticised Trump’s continuing efforts to litigate the election and making allegations of fraud.
He said that Trump’s actions were “incredibly damaging” and sends the world “a horrible message about who we are as a country”.
The initial count in Georgia was done by machines and during the audit election workers went through each of the ballots manually and added them up.
Trump can ask for a full recount because the margin of defeat is less than 0.5 per cent, which his campaign is set to do.
Even if in a recount or other court manoeuvres Trump wins Georgia, Biden would still be the winner of the election as he has 306 electoral college votes and the loss of 16 would still leave him with more than the 270 votes required to win.
Trump kept a steady flow of tweets alleging widespread fraud in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan and other states.
Taking to Twitter, the President said: “Vote audit confirms Biden win in Georgia despite finding missing ballots. Thousands of uncounted votes discovered in Georgia counties. When the much more important signature match takes place, the State will flip Republican, and very quickly.”
He was referring to his lawyer’s demand for a manual match of the signatures on the postal ballots.
Georgia officials attributed the irregularities to simple human error, rather than malfeasance.
According to an official of Raffensperger’s office, in Floyd county the ballots were taken to the headquarters for counting after a problem with the scanner at a polling station and they were forgotten till the audit.
Floyd County board dismissed its top election official on Thursday.
In three other cases, the results stored on memory cards had not been uploaded into the system.
(Arul Louis can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter at @arulouis)