WASHINGTON: Georgia's Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Friday (Nov 6) said he expects a recount due to the small margin for the presidential election in the battleground state, where Democrat Joe Biden has a small lead over President Donald Trump of more than 1,000 votes, with 4,169 left to count.
"With a margin that small, there will be a recount in Georgia," Raffensperger said.
He said the final tally in Georgia has "huge implications" for the entire country.
"The stakes are high and emotions are high on all sides. We will not let those debates distract us from our work. We'll get it right and we'll defend the integrity of our elections."
He said that Georgia was letting observers from both campaigns watch the counting after Trump, with no evidence, alleged widespread fraud nationwide.
Edison Research reports that with 99 per cent of the estimated vote tallied so far, Trump has 49.4 per cent of the vote, with Biden also holding 49.4 per cent.
Officials said about 9,000 military and overseas ballots were still outstanding and could be accepted if they arrive on Friday and are postmarked on Tuesday or earlier.
There are two ways of seeking a recount in Georgia. A presidential candidate who loses by 0.5 per cent of the vote or less can force a recount by sending a written request to the secretary of state, or a candidate can ask the secretary of state to conduct one by alleging a “discrepancy or error” in the vote tabulation. In that case, state law gives the secretary discretion about whether to conduct a recount.
Local election officials in Georgia also can conduct recounts in their counties if they think there is a discrepancy in the results.
The Southern state switched to new touch-screen voting machines this year. After a voter makes their choices, the machine produces a marked paper ballot that is fed into a scanner that counts the vote.
Absentee voters – hundreds of thousands this year – filled out the same ballots, which also were fed into the scanners. If the scanner cannot read the ballot, a bipartisan group of election officials reviews it to determine whether or how it should be counted.
A recount essentially repeats that process, and in the past has not made big changes in the results. Because of that, a recount is considered unlikely to have a big effect on the state’s vote totals.
Winning Georgia's 16 electoral votes would push the former vice president over 270 votes, the amount he needs to secure the presidency.
The shift in Georgia came hours after Trump appeared at the White House to falsely claim the election was being "stolen" from him. His campaign is pursuing a series of lawsuits across battleground states that legal experts described as unlikely to succeed in altering the election outcome.
Trump's lead had steadily diminished in Georgia, a Southern state that has not voted for a Democratic presidential nominee since Bill Clinton took the White House in 1992, as officials worked through tens of thousands of uncounted votes, many from Democratic strongholds such as Atlanta.
There is some uncertainty surrounding Arizona, which has 11 electoral votes.
The Trump campaign said it was confident the president would ultimately pull out a victory in Arizona, where votes were also still being counted, including in Maricopa County, the state’s most populous area.
The Associated Press has called Arizona for Biden and said it is monitoring the vote count as it proceeds. With Arizona, Biden would currently have 264 electoral votes.
Several US outlets, including CNN and NBC News, have held back from calling Arizona, putting Biden at 253 electoral votes in total.
The Democrat challenger also edged ahead in the race for Pennsylvania, opening up a 5,500 vote-wide lead ahead of Trump.
Biden would become the next president by winning Pennsylvania, or by winning Georgia or Nevada. Trump's likeliest path appears narrower - he needs to hang onto both Pennsylvania and Georgia and also to overtake Biden in either Nevada or Arizona.