Georgia’s Foreign Minister Brad Raffensperger said on Friday that a recount of the ballots will take place in his state, as there is currently a small gap between the number of Georgians’ votes for President Donald Trump and the Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
The recount means that in the coming weeks Americans will probably not know for sure which candidate won Georgia, although Raffensperger said during a press conference that he hoped the result would be clear by the end of November.
Neither candidate had the 270 votes needed to secure the presidency by Friday. Georgia – a state with 16 voters who have gone to the Republican presidential candidate in every election since 1992 – turned out to be an unexpected battleground in this election cycle as Trump and Biden had almost come to a standstill by Friday evening.
Gabriel Sterling, the Georgian manager for the implementation of the electoral system, told reporters that the gap between Trump and Biden was only 1,585 votes on Friday at 3 p.m. local time, a gap that had widened to over 4,000 votes three hours later.
Just over 8,000 ballots waited until Friday morning nationwide for their counting, but Raffensperger said there were also more than 8,000 military ballots that could be received in time for the counting by election officials. As long as the military ballots were stamped by election day and received by Friday, they could be counted, Sterling said.
Once all ballots have been counted, districts must confirm their election results and present them to the state officials so that the state can go through its own certification process. Sterling said the deadline for certifying the state is November 20, but added that election officials hope to confirm the results earlier. Once the state has done so, the losing candidate can then request a recount.
“A recount can only be requested once the election is confirmed,” Sterling said. “At that time, the runner-up, whether it be President Trump or Vice President Biden, either of them – whoever is in second place – can request a recount if they are within half a percent.
Sterling said it was difficult to predict how long a recount would take because Georgia has never conducted a nationwide recount under its current system. “We hope it will take a week, but we have no way of actually knowing at this time,” Sterling said, adding that further delays are possible if lawsuits are added.
At least 31 nationwide recounts have taken place since the turn of the century, the Associated Press reported. These recounts did not reveal any significant discrepancies in the votes cast, although three of them, according to the AP, caused a change in the election results.
In the last presidential election, a third candidate requested a recount in Wisconsin, a state already called for Biden this year and in which Trump’s campaign has stated that he is considering requesting a recount. This 2016 recount, requested by Green candidate Jill Stein, resulted in 131 additional votes in Trumps Wisconsin, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
A recount for a 2004 justice race in Georgia also did not result in a significant change, according to the Courier Newsroom. There were only 15 votes between candidates in this recount.
Perhaps the most famous recount in recent times was the recount in Florida in 2000, which began when news stations withdrew their original calls for the state and Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore requested recounts in some districts. In this case, the case eventually went to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declared Republican candidate George W. Bush the winner.
Twenty years later, another state is emerging in Georgia, where the finals could be extremely close. The defeated candidate has two days after the confirmation of the first results to request a recount, said Raffensperger.
Washington Newsday asked Trump and Biden for a comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication.