So it’s official: Georgia was carried by a Democratic presidential nominee for the first time since 1992, and its 16 electoral votes knock another prop from beneath the increasingly wild and desperate Trump campaign effort to contest his defeat.
Biden’s Peach State win, by a margin of 12,284 votes, was certified by Georgia’s elected Republican Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, after a full hand recount of all 5 million ballots somewhat reduced, but did not seriously threaten, Biden’s lead. Georgia’s Republican governor, Brian Kemp, is expected to rubber-stamp the certification momentarily, since the Secretary of State’s findings leave him no grounds for disputing it other than the wild conspiracy theories being aired by Rudy Giuliani and Team Trump’s other attorneys. Once the governor has certified the results, it will be extremely difficult for anyone to dispute it in court, according to the rules set up by the Electoral Count Act of 1877.
Georgia law does allow for a mandatory recount of the results by machines even after the certification if a campaign requests it within two days. But if a hand recount didn’t flip the results there is no reason to think the much more superficial machine recount would make a difference.
Raffensperger’s certification, interestingly enough, coincides with a visit to Georgia by Vice-President Mike Pence, who is there to thump the tubs for his party’s two incumbent candidates in the state’s crucial January 5 runoffs. Said candidates, David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler, have publicly demanded Raffensperger’s resignation on grounds that he has rejected and even mocked Trump’s claims of election theft. Privately, of course, the two senators are probably anxious to begin promoting the message that their reelection is necessary to stop Joe Biden from socializing medicine and confiscating guns and outlawing cheeseburgers, etc. etc. But Trump’s refusal to concede makes that impossible for now. It will be interesting to see what Pence, Perdue, and Loeffler have to say about the election certification.
For his part, Raffensperger quickly moved to mitigate some of the intraparty damage he has suffered, choosing this moment to propose three “reforms” for future elections, as WXIA reports:
* Legislation to allow the Secretary of State’s Office to intervene in counties that have “systemic ongoing problems” with election administration
* Absentee balloting changes, including a voter ID requirement, which he said would remove signature matching altogether and make absentee balloting “move from a subjective system to an objective system.”
* More discretionary power to challenge voters suspected of not living where they vote.
But it’s likely the Republican infighting over loyalty to Trump will have repercussions in 2022. Soon-to-be unemployed congressman and failed Senate candidate Doug Collins, who represented the Trump campaign in its post-election histrionics in Georgia, was recently called a “liar” by Raffensperger, but I gather there’s already talk Collins might primary Kemp, who has at best a shaky relationship with the GOP’s lord and master in the White House.
All this tension in the ranks of the long-dominant party in Georgia sweetens the celebration Democrats are enjoying over Biden’s win, and may serve as a tonic to the troops as they prepare for January 5 — and for 2022, when Stacey Abrams is expected to run for governor again.