US President-elect Joe Biden has won Georgia and its 16 electoral votes, an extraordinary victory for Democrats who pushed to expand their electoral map through the Sun Belt.
The win by Biden pads his Electoral College margin of victory over President Donald Trump. Biden now has 306 electoral votes to Trump's 232.
A top Georgia election official said on Thursday (Friday NZT) that a hand tally of ballots cast in the presidential race had been completed, and the results affirmed Biden's narrow lead over Trump.
The hand tally of about 5 million votes stemmed from an audit required by a new state law and wasn't in response to any suspected problems with the state's results or an official recount request.
Once the state certifies the election results, the losing campaign has two business days to request a recount if the margin remains within 0.5 per cent. That recount would be done using scanners that read and tally the votes and would be paid for by the counties, Sterling said.
It was up to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to select the race to be audited, and he said the presidential race made the most sense because of its significance and the tight margin separating the candidates.
Because of that small margin, Raffensperger said a full hand recount was necessary.
Votes that hadn't previously been counted were found in several counties during the audit, which required recertification of the election results in those counties.
In Floyd County, more than 2500 ballots were discovered during the audit that hadn't previously been scanned, and the secretary of state's office had called for the firing of the county's chief elections clerk, Robert Brady.
The county elections board on Thursday voted to issue a written reprimand to Brady and, because it was his second written reprimand within six months, to fire him in accordance with county policy, board member Melanie Conrad said in an email.
Several other counties found memory cards with votes that hadn't been uploaded and counted before the audit.
Going into the hand tally, Biden led Trump by a margin of about 14,000 votes. The previously uncounted ballots discovered during the hand count would reduce that margin to about 12,800, Sterling said.
Trump won Georgia by 5 percentage points in 2016 over Democrat Hillary Clinton.
Georgia hadn't voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since Bill Clinton in 1992.