Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Friday signed the paperwork that officially grants the state's 16 electoral votes to President-elect Joe Biden.
“The Governor has formalized the certification delivered to our office by the Secretary of State – as is required by state law,” Kemp spokesperson Tate Mitchell told CNN in an email.
Earlier on Friday, Kemp announced he would “follow the law” and certify the electoral votes for Biden.
State law requires Kemp, a Republican, to award Georgia’s electoral votes to the certified winner of the presidential election. A federal judge on Thursday rejected a last-ditch lawsuit that tried to block certification, and Biden’s victory was certified Friday afternoon by Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger.
“Earlier today, Secretary Raffensperger presented the certified results of the 2020 general election to my office,” Kemp said at a news conference. “Following Judge (Steven) Grimberg’s ruling yesterday, state law now requires the governor’s office to formalize the certification, which paves the way for the Trump campaign to pursue other legal options and a separate recount if they choose.”
Kemp later added, “As governor, I have a solemn responsibility to follow the law, and that is what I will do.”
Because of the close margin, the Trump campaign can request a recount. Georgia already conducted a statewide audit, hand-counting about 5 million ballots, to any future recount is extremely unlikely to change the results.
Certifying election results is typically a formality, but the process has become the latest battleground in President Trump's longshot attempt to cling onto power. His campaign is trying to block or delay certification in key states in hopes of overturning Biden's victory through the Electoral College.
After the news conference, Kemp’s office put out a news release saying, explicitly, “Governor Kemp Formalizes Election Certification.” But Kemp also embraced some of Trump’s complaints about the process in Georgia.
Kemp asked Raffensperger to conduct a partial audit of absentee ballots to double-check that the signatures matched – caving to a persistent demand from Trump throughout the post-election process. It’s unclear if this can happen at this stage of the process, and CNN has reached out to Raffensperger’s office for comment.
Trump has berated Kemp on Twitter over the signature-matching issue, blaming the governor for a legal agreement the state reached earlier this year with Democratic groups regarding absentee ballots. Raffensberger's office has said Trump is mischaracterizing that agreement, known as a consent decree, by falsely claiming it weakened verification rules for absentee ballots. Signature-matching is used to verify the identity of absentee voters.
Kemp also said it was “unacceptable” that small batches of uncounted ballots were found during the audit. Election officials have repeatedly said these mishandled ballots were caused by mistakes and incompetence – not fraud.