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Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger holds a press conference on the status of ballot counting on November 6, 2020, in Atlanta. | Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

This would be a blow to Trump’s effort to overturn the election results.

The state of Georgia will certify Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump Friday, according to a press release from Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office.

Around midday, the secretary of state’s office announced that the results had been certified, in a press release. However, a little over an hour later, the office issued a correction, saying the results had in fact not yet been certified, but would be later Friday. The deadline for certification is 5 pm Eastern. And as journalist Brendan Keefe points out, Georgia’s Republican governor, Brian Kemp, has called a press conference with an “election update” for that hour.

“Working as an engineer throughout my life, I live by the motto that numbers don’t lie,” Raffensperger said at an earlier press conference Friday morning. “The numbers reflect the verdict of the people, not a decision by the secretary of state’s office or of courts or of either campaign.”

Ordinarily, certification would be a formality. But President Trump has been making an unprecedented effort to interfere with the mechanics of electoral democracy in the United States, by trying to block the certification of results in states Biden won, making baseless claims of fraud.

What comes next in Georgia

If Raffensperger indeed certifies the results Friday, the next step in the process must come from Gov. Brian Kemp (R), who must certify the appointment of Biden’s electors — the actual people who will cast the Electoral College votes for the state in December.

Kemp must certify the electors by 5 pm Eastern on Saturday. He has said little about Trump’s attempt to overturn the election result so far, but a spokesperson told the Associated Press this week that Kemp would “make a determination in his own mind if he’s seen” evidence of widespread fraud. Raffensperger has repeatedly said there is no such evidence.

“Governor Kemp will hopefully see the light before it is too late. Must finally take charge!” Trump tweeted this week.

Additionally, even though the result has been certified, Trump has until Tuesday to ask for another recount in Georgia. Raffensperger already ordered, and the state carried out, a hand audit of all results in the state — but Trump can request a machine recount, which the state would pay for. No recount has ever erased anything close to a 12,000-vote lead, though, and even Trump has downplayed the chances that a recount would put him ahead.

Finally, Trump’s team has also been arguing that Republican legislatures in states Biden won should step in and appoint Trump electors, defying the will of voters. Such a maneuver would be legally dubious at best.

But Georgia is the rare close swing state where Republicans do control both the governorship and the state legislature, meaning that a partisan plot here would be at least theoretically conceivable. However, state legislature leaders have given no indication they’d try this yet. For now, Georgia’s 16 electoral votes appear on track to go to Biden.

This piece has been updated with new information from the Georgia Secretary of State’s office. The office originally said the result had been certified, but later said that certification had not yet happened.

Author: Andrew Prokop

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