On Thursday night, Georgia completed its hand recount of the ballots in the 2020 election, finding that Joe Biden leads President Donald Trump by 12,284 votes. The state has yet to certify the results, however. The Trump campaign contested the recount, arguing that Georgia officials still wrongfully counted illegal ballots.
“Georgia’s historic first statewide audit reaffirmed that the state’s new secure paper ballot voting system accurately counted and reported results,” Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R-Ga.) said in a statement. “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.”
Jenna Ellis, senior legal advisor to the Trump campaign, fact-checked the legacy media on the Georgia news.
“Headlines are already falsely reporting that Joe Biden is declared the winner in Georgia. Sorry, media, that’s not how it works. The State of Georgia has not certified its results, and it should not,” Ellis said in a statement.
“This so-called hand recount went exactly as we expected because Georgia simply recounted all of the illegal ballots that had been included in the total,” she argued. “We continue to demand that Georgia conduct an honest recount, which includes signature matching. We intend to pursue all legal options to ensure that only legal ballots are counted.”
Ellis is correct that Georgia has not certified its results, but the Associated Press did call the race for Biden. Her fact-check boils down to the question of what it means for Biden to be “declared the winner.”
The signature-matching issue is even thornier. The Trump campaign has alleged that election officials have kept Republican poll watchers away, hampering their ability to monitor the counting of ballots.
When it comes to signature-matching, election officials have to check the signatures on the secrecy envelopes before counting absentee ballots in those envelopes. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, even if election officials did illegally count absentee ballots, it may be impossible to fix the problem, since ballots are not kept with secrecy envelopes after officials remove and tally them.
Election officials rejected 2,011 absentee ballots in the Georgia general election, according to Raffensperger’s office. Voters returned a total of 1.32 million absentee ballots, so the rejection rate is 0.15 percent, the same as in the 2018 election. That year, Georgians cast only 284,000 absentee ballots, 454 of which were rejected for signature mismatch.
The recount found thousands of previously-uncounted ballots.
Earlier on Thursday, Ellis and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani spoke at a press conference, claiming that the Trump campaign has evidence showing that “more than double” Biden’s vote margin in six swing states comes from illegal ballots.
Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.