Georgia certification still underway, secretary of state’s office says after announcing it was complete


(CNN)Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s office said Friday that he hasn’t yet certified the results of the presidential election, one hour after issuing a press release announcing it was complete.

The certification will formalize the razor-thin presidential results after a statewide audit confirmed that Joe Biden got more votes than President Donald Trump and would be a major blow to Trump’s longshot efforts to overturn the outcome of the election.

“Numbers don’t lie,” Raffensperger said during a news conference earlier Friday. “As Secretary of State, I believe that the numbers that we are presented today are correct.”

Raffensperger’s office then issued a press release at 12:26 p.m., saying, “The Georgia Secretary of State Office today certified the results for the November 3, 2020 General Election.” But it sent a “correction” at 1:06 p.m. saying, “Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger today will certify the results for the November 3, 2020 General Election.”

    Certifying election results is typically a formality, but the arcane process has become the latest battleground in Trump’s longshot attempt to cling to power. His campaign is trying to block or delay certification in key states in hopes of overturning Biden’s victory through the Electoral College.

    The scheme essentially becomes impossible if key states certify their presidential results before December 8, which is known as a “safe harbor” deadline under federal law. Now that Georgia has certified its results, the state has met the deadline and Congress is required to respect these results.

    Raffensberger has balked at efforts by Trump and his GOP allies to undermine the vote-counting process in the state and has vigorously defended the integrity of the presidential race in Georgia.

    Now that the results are certified, Trump is entitled to ask for a statewide machine recount because of the narrow margin. The deadline for his campaign to request that recount is Tuesday afternoon.

    Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, has until 5 p.m. ET Saturday to sign the paperwork that officially grants Georgia’s 16 electors to Biden, according to state law. Kemp has been relatively quiet during the post-election audit, and CNN has asked his office if he plans to sign the paperwork without incident. Kemp is scheduled to speak on a livestream at 5 p.m. ET Friday about the election.

    Kemp did release a statement before the audit urging Raffensberger to “take a serious look at any and all voting irregularity allegations that have been made.” Trump and his campaign have raised baseless allegations of massive irregularities and fraud in Georgia.

    Trump has mentioned the governor in at least six tweets since Election Day, encouraging Kemp to “get tough” and make the state “flip Republican,” even though Georgia voters backed Biden, the Democratic nominee. He also encouraged Kemp to “take charge” after it became clear the audit wasn’t uncovering widespread irregularities.

    But in the tweets, Trump also berated Kemp, blaming him for a legal agreement the state reached earlier this year with Democratic groups regarding absentee ballots. Raffensberger’s office has said Trump is mischaracterizing the agreement, known as a consent decree, which he falsely claimed weakened verification rules for absentee ballots.

      A federal judge on Thursday dismissed a lawsuit to delay Georgia’s certification. The case was brought by one of the potential Republican electors, and the Trump campaign was not officially involved. Lin Wood, who brought the lawsuit, would have served as a pro-Trump elector if Trump won Georgia.

      This story has been updated following Raffensperger’s announcement the results have not been certified.

      CNN’s Caroline Kelly contributed to this report.