President-elect Joe Biden is projected to flip the state of Georgia blue following a prolonged tallying of ballots after Election Day and amid a hand recount that is still underway.
The victory was called by the Associated Press.
The news comes after election officials in Georgia's 159 counties started counting ballots by hand Friday morning in a recount of the presidential race that stems from an audit required by state law.
The law in Georgia requires that one race be audited by hand to check that the machines counted the ballots accurately — not because of any suspected problems with the results. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger chose to audit the presidential race and said that the tight margin — Democrat Joe Biden leads Republican President Donald Trump by 14,000 votes — meant a full hand count was necessary.
The hand recount was finished by Thursday, and election officials said it showed Biden still in the lead in the state.
Republicans made demands earlier this week of Georgia’s chief elections officer, seeking to overturn Biden’s significant vote lead in the state’s presidential race.
U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, who led Trump’s recount team in Georgia, and state Republican Party Chairman David Shafer sent a letter to Raffensperger on Tuesday requesting that he order a hand recount of Georgia’s nearly 5 million ballots before certifying the results.
The counties were supposed to finish the hand count by 11:59 p.m. Wednesday. Gabriel Sterling, who oversaw the implementation of the state's new voting system, said Thursday evening that the audit was complete. Results were posted on the secretary of state's website.
No individual county showed a variation in margin larger than 0.73%, and the variation in margin in 103 of the state's 159 counties was less than 0.05%, Sterling said.
“Every single vote was touched by a human audit team and counted,” he said. “Obviously, the audit confirms the original result of the election, namely that Joe Biden won the presidential contest in the state of Georgia.”
The results that will be certified are the totals certified by the counties, not those resulting from the audit.
Once the state certifies the election results, the losing campaign has two business days to request a recount since the margin remains within 0.5%. That recount would be done using scanners that read and tally the votes and would be paid for by the counties, the secretary of state's office has said.
Georgia was the only state whose race had yet to be called after North Carolina was called in favor of Trump Friday.
There has been no evidence of widespread fraud or irregularities in the 2020 election. In fact, election officials from both political parties have stated publicly that the election went well and international observers confirmed there were no serious irregularities.
Last week, the members of the Election Infrastructure Government Council Executive Committee and other committees within the Department of Homeland Security released a statement saying that the 2020 presidential election was “the most secure in American history.”
According to the joint statement released by the committees, which are part of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency under DHS, election officials are reviewing and double-checking the entire election process, and have not found evidence of widespread voter fraud or irregularities.
“When states have close elections, many will recount ballots. All of the states with close results in the 2020 presidential race have paper records of each vote, allowing the ability to go back and count each ballot if necessary. This is an added benefit for security and resilience. This process allows for the identification and correction of any mistakes or errors,” the statement read. “There is no evidence that any voting system deleted or lost votes, changed votes, or was in any way compromised.”
“While we know there are many unfounded claims and opportunities for misinformation about the process of our elections, we can assure you we have the utmost confidence in the security and integrity of our elections, and you should too. When you have questions, turn to elections officials as trusted voices as they administer elections,” according to the CISA statement.
Trump this week fired the head of the cybersecurity agency, Chris Krebs.
Hours before being dismissed, Krebs tweeted out a report citing 59 election security experts saying there is no credible evidence of computer fraud in the 2020 election outcome.
Trump responded on Twitter later in the day. He repeated unsubstantiated claims about the vote and wrote “effective immediately, Chris Krebs has been terminated as Director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.”
Trump’s campaign filed a barrage of legal challenges in multiple states in the days following the 2020 election, but most of the actions have been dismissed by judges. On Friday, Trump’s legal team withdrew a challenge to Arizona’s election results that was filed after Biden won the state.
Several other challenges by Trump campaign lawyers in other states have either been withdrawn or dismissed.
The issues Trump’s campaign and its allies have pointed to are typical in every election: problems with signatures, as well as the potential for a small number of ballots miscast or lost. With Biden leading Trump by wide margins in key states, none of those issues would affect the election’s outcome.
No Democratic presidential candidate has won Georgia since Bill Clinton was first elected in 1992, and it’s been 20 years since the state elected a Democrat to the U.S. Senate. But some cracks in the GOP grip on power were evident two years ago when Democrat Stacey Abrams narrowly lost the gubernatorial contest to Republican Brian Kemp.
Shifting demographics — with more Black, Latino and Asian American voters joined by White transplants from other states — have made the state more competitive. The populous suburbs in Cobb and Gwinnett counties just north of Atlanta had already flipped for Hillary Clinton in 2016 and stayed there for Abrams in 2018.
Trump claimed in the wee hours of the morning after Election Day that it was “clear that we have won Georgia.” But Biden nodded to the state’s potential swing status, saying as he spoke ahead of the president: “We’re still in the game in Georgia, although that’s not one we expected.”
The Associated Press and FOX News contributed to this story.