Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp — a staunch supporter of President Trump suddenly under fire from him — will certify his state’s 16 electoral votes for President-elect Joe Biden by Saturday, he said in a guarded speech Friday, echoing some of his party’s concerns about vote-counting processes and leaving the door open for Trump to file lawsuits and request a second recount.
In a Friday afternoon address, Kemp did not directly call Biden the winner of his state, instead telling voters he is legally required to certify the official election results prepared by the Secretary of State’s office, which show Biden with a lead of 12,670 votes.
Biden’s victory was verified by a hand recount and audit of every vote in the state, a process Kemp said he supported.
Unlike Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, also a Republican, Kemp did not outright say the election was fair and largely free of widespread voter fraud, but he did not endorse any of Trump’s baseless allegations about vote-rigging.
The governor criticized four Georgia counties for uncovering close to 6,000 ballots that were excluded from initial vote tallies due to human error, calling the incident “simply unacceptable,” though he said most local election officials performed well.
He encouraged Raffensperger to reverify some of the signatures on absentee ballot envelopes, echoing Trump’s concerns about whether ballots were properly verified to guard against fraud.
“State law now requires the governor’s office to formalize the certification, which paves the way for the Trump campaign to pursue other legal options,” Kemp said. “I have a solemn responsibility to follow the law, and that is what I will continue to do.”
What To Watch For
Kemp noted that Trump can still pursue legal challenges after the election is certified, a path Trump’s campaign said it planned to take on Thursday, though it’s unclear what form these lawsuits might take. Trump can also request a machine recount within the next two business days because Biden’s margin of victory is just 0.26 points, well below the 0.5-point maximum. However, Georgia just finished a hand recount and audit of every vote, and another count is unlikely to close Trump’s five-digit deficit.
Trump has baselessly claimed Georgia was awash with “hundreds of thousands of illegal ballots,” insisting Kemp and Raffensperger prevented his campaign from exposing this fraud. In reality, county election workers verified all mail-in ballots during the initial counting process, and state officials say there is no evidence of widespread fraud.
Trump falsely declared victory in Georgia on election night. Even though Biden pulled ahead after absentee votes were counted, he continued to falsely claim Georgia was stolen from him due to voter fraud. Trump’s allies criticized the state’s hand recount process, attacked Raffensperger for supposed mismanagement, and filed several lawsuits that were either dismissed due to a lack of evidence or quickly withdrawn. Despite the acrimony and pressure, Raffensperger and his staff have reassured voters that there is no evidence of widespread fraud or irregularities in the state, and Kemp — a vocal Trump supporter — has largely avoided taking any committal stances on the vote-counting process.
Source: Forbes – Business