On Wednesday morning, Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger has allowed a hand recount of all votes in the Presidential race between Joe Biden and Donald Trump.
Biden leads Trump by more than 14,000 votes. If Biden’s lead holds, it will be the first time a Democrat Presidential candidate would win Georgia since 1992.
Raffensperger pledged to complete the statewide recount by the Nov. 20 deadline.
“At 1 p.m. today I will make the official designation of which race will be the subject of the (risk-limiting audit) at that time I will designate that the RLA will be the presidential race,” Raffensperger said during a press conference Wednesday. “With the margin being so close it will require a full by hand recount in each county. This will help build confidence. It will be an audit, a recount, and a recanvass all at once.”
Georgia was thrust into the spotlight as President Trump jumped out to a 372,000 vote lead on Biden on Election Night. The state counted the in-person vote first.
As the mail-in ballots and early votes were counted, Biden made up that deficit over the next three days.
That development prompted incumbent Republican Senators Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue to claim malfeasance on the part of Georgia Secretary of State Raffensperger.
On Monday afternoon, Senators Loeffler and Perdue called for Raffensperger’s resignation.
Their claims of election fraud have not been substantiated in court.
“We believe when there are failures, they need to be called out — even when it’s in your own party,” the senators said in their statement.
The Trump campaign made it clear Wednesday that the President must be re-elected as they wish for every fraudulent vote to be thrown out.
The Trump campaign has made similar wishes in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.
“Let me start by saying that is not going to happen,” Raffensperger said of the request to resign.
Raffensperger would later dismiss the Republicans’ claims as “laughable.”
“Every time we take a step along this process, we believe we are getting closer to our goal … the president winning these states and ultimately being re-elected,” said Tim Murtaugh, communications director for the Trump campaign.
The Biden campaign responded in a statement that “historically only races with exceptionally close margins have any likelihood of being overturned.”
“President-elect Biden’s margin is now at more than 14,000 votes,” Biden spokesperson Paige Hill said in the statement. “At the end of this hand recount process, we are confident the Election Day result will be reaffirmed: Georgians have selected Joe Biden as their next commander in chief.”
Meanwhile, the Rev. Raphael Warnock, who is battling Loeffler for one of the U.S. Senate seats issued a statement Wednesday alleging the Buckhead resident of attempting to undermine American democracy.
“I’ve watched with alarm as Kelly Loeffler intentionally seeks to erode trust in our democracy for her own political benefit,” Warnock said. “No matter what party you belong to or who you supported in the last week, I hope we can all agree that we must protect the integrity of our elections.
He added, “Every vote must be counted and we all should stand together for taking the responsible, American path of accepting the results.”
While the Republican party scrambles through litigation and requests for recounts, Biden and his team appear to be moving forward.
Late Wednesday, Biden named his longtime adviser Ron Klain to reprise his role as his chief of staff, installing an aide with decades of experience in the top role in his White House.
In a statement Wednesday night, Biden suggested he chose Klain for the position because his longtime experience in Washington had prepared him for such challenges.
“His deep, varied experience and capacity to work with people all across the political spectrum is precisely what I need in a White House chief of staff as we confront this moment of crisis and bring our country together again,” Biden said.
Klain served as chief of staff for Biden during Barack Obama’s first term, was chief of staff to Vice President Al Gore in the mid-1990s, and was a key adviser on the Biden campaign, guiding Biden’s debate preparations and coronavirus response. He’s known and worked with Biden since the Democrat’s 1987 presidential campaign.
“I’m honored by the President-elect’s confidence and will give my all to lead a talented and diverse team in a Biden-Harris WH,” Klain tweeted.
Biden’s naming of Klain as chief of staff follows his announcement on Monday of a team of scientists and doctors who would serve as his coronavirus advisory board.
“The challenge before us right now is still immense and growing, and so is the need for bold action to fight this pandemic,” Biden said after being briefed on the virus. “We are still facing a dark winter.”
He called on Americans to separate politics from the virus and embrace mask-wearing.
“We could save tens of thousands of lives if everyone would just wear a mask for the next few months. Not Democratic or Republican lives, American lives,” Biden said. “Please, I implore you, wear a mask.”
Over the past two weeks, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has risen nearly 65 percent. The seven-day rolling average for daily new cases in the U.S. went from 66,294 on Oct. 25 to 108,736.7 on Sunday.
In the past week, one of every 433 Americans was diagnosed with COVID-19, and hospitals in several states are running out of space and staff.
The advisory board that Biden announced on Monday includes doctors and scientists who have served in previous administrations, many of them experts in public health, vaccines, and infectious disease.
It will be led by former Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, former Food and Drug Administration Commissioner David Kessler, and Yale University public health care expert Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith.
Rick Bright, a vaccine expert and former head of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, is also on the board. He had filed a whistleblower complaint alleging he was reassigned to a lesser job because he resisted political pressure to allow widespread use of hydroxychloroquine, a malaria drug pushed by Trump as a COVID-19 treatment.
Other members include Dr. Luciana Borio, who had senior leadership positions at the FDA and National Security Council during the Obama and Trump administrations; Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, who served as a special adviser for health policy in the Obama administration; Dr. Atul Gawande, a senior adviser in the Department of Health and Human Services in the Clinton administration and medical writer; and Michael Osterholm, an epidemiologist who served as an adviser to Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson during the George W. Bush administration.
Additional reporting from the Associated Press.