Officials: Georgia audit confirms Secretary of State winner

ATLANTA (AP) — A hand count of random bundles of votes in Georgia’s recent election for foreign minister has confirmed Republican Brad Raffensperger’s victory, state election officials said.

The test, required by state law, revealed a small difference in votes from the machine count used during the election, but the difference was well within the expected margin of error, the Secretary of State’s office said on Friday.

“This audit demonstrates that our system is working and that our county election officials conducted a safe and accurate election,” Raffensperger said in a statement.

The audit is based on a law passed in 2019 and not on concerns about the integrity of the state’s election results. Even-year general elections require an examination for a race selected by the Secretary of State. It must be completed before voting results are confirmed.

Raffensperger announced this earlier this month that he chose his race for the test. Raffensperger beat Democratic House Representative Bee Nguyen.

In 2020, he chose the Georgia presidential contest between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden for risk-limiting scrutiny. Biden won that race by a narrow margin, arranging for a manual count of all votes cast to confirm the accuracy of the vote-counting scanners.

For risk-limiting audits, the smaller the distance between candidates in a race, the larger the sample of ballots that need to be checked first.

Trump, who falsely claimed cheating cost him the 2020 election, took aim at Raffensperger for failing to reverse his narrow Georgia loss. In a now infamous phone call in January 2021, Trump suggested Raffensperger could “find” enough votes to reverse Biden’s election victory.

Raffensperger defeated a main challenger backed by Trump in this year’s election campaign.

For this year’s test, Georgian election officials held a dice roll at the State Capitol to help determine the vote stacks that the districts had to hand-tell.

In all, county election officials checked 328 lots of ballots. More than 85 percent of the lots showed no deviation from the candidates’ original number of votes. Of the remaining batches, all but one had a discrepancy within an expected margin of error for a hand count, the Secretary of State’s office said.

In the audit, 156,832 votes were counted for Raffensperger and 67,486 votes for Nguyen. A machine count of the same ballots showed Raffensperger receiving a total of 156,811 votes and Nguyen receiving a total of 67,504 votes.

Officials had said such a difference was expected due to human error during the hand counting process.

State law requires a 90 percent certainty that the result is correct, but Raffensperger said he’s increasing that to 95 percent, meaning a 5 percent “risk limit”.