(CNN) –– The secretary of state Georgia’s Brad Raffensperger announced Wednesday that an audit of the state’s presidential elections will be conducted. As he indicated, the millions of votes cast in Georgia, where President-elect Joe Biden leads, will be counted by hand.
“With such a narrow margin, a full manual count will be required in every county,” reported Raffensperger, who is a Republican. “This will help build trust,” the official added during a press conference in Atlanta.
“It will be an audit, a count and a survey all at the same time,” he completed.
Raffensperger’s announcement comes as he faces pressure from President Donald Trump’s campaign for a recount. In addition to requests from other Georgia Republicans for his resignation and allegations of mismanagement of the electoral process.
Georgia in the spotlight for the elections
Attention has focused on Georgia, where the two high-stakes US Senate elections appear to be heading for a runoff in January. The races have even caused friction among Republicans in the state. Earlier this week, the two Republican senators, Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue, who are fighting for reelection, demanded Raffensperger to resign his position. And, in that sense, they accused him without evidence of not “providing honest and transparent elections.”
CNN has yet to project a winner in Georgia’s presidential race. However, Biden is currently leading the race against Trump by more than 14,000 votes in the state. Precisely, an advantage that Raffensperger said earlier is “unlikely” to be exceeded on a tally.
CNN has projected that Biden will win the presidential election. For his part, Trump has not given up the race. On the contrary, he has made unsubstantiated claims about alleged widespread electoral fraud and votes by mail.
The Georgia Republican Party and US Rep. Doug Collins, a Republican leading the counting efforts for the Trump campaign in Georgia, they requested this Tuesday a precertification of “manual recount of each vote cast in the state of Georgia” for the presidential race.
Collins and the Trump campaign celebrated the Georgia secretary of state’s manual recount decision on Wednesday. They saw it as a victory for “integrity” and “transparency.”
“This is an important first step in the process of ensuring that the elections were fair and that all legal votes were counted,” said Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh in a call with reporters.
“We have to do a statewide audit”
During Wednesday’s press conference, Raffensperger denied that Trump’s campaign influenced the state’s decision.
“We are doing this because it really makes the most sense,” he said. “With the national importance of this contest and the closeness of this race, we have to conduct an audit across the state,” he insisted.
Raffensperger said he hopes the recount will be completed in time for the certification of Georgia’s presidential results. Which has a deadline of November 20. The Trump campaign attempts to delay certification in some key states as part of a risky effort to overturn the results through the Electoral College.
According to Raffensperger, the expectation is to start the count before the week is out. So far, 97 of Georgia’s 159 counties have already certified their results, but all county certifications are still required by Friday, he said.
Election audit in Georgia would be expensive
The official said he would officially designate the presidential race as the subject of the risk limitation audit hours later on Wednesday.
Raffensperger said that once the results are certified on November 20, a candidate within the 0.5% margin will still be able to request a “recount.” But he clarified that it would be a “scanned count”, performed by machines.
The secretary acknowledged that the audit would be expensive and “heavy work”, and that poll workers will work overtime.
Typically, risk limitation audits like these only examine a small sample of votes. However, Raffensperger cited the narrow margin as the reason officials will recheck every vote cast in the presidential race.
CNN’s Maegan Vasquez, Jason Morris, Tina Burnside and Marshall Cohen contributed to this report.
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