But he also offered a searing assessment of the administrative failures that may have aided the disputed outcome—including reports that multiple counties had discovered thousands of ballots that went uncounted the first time.
Biden officially led President Donald Trump by only 12,670 votes as of Friday’s certification, according to Fox News.
“It’s, quite honestly, hard to believe that during the audit thousands of uncounted ballots were found weeks after a razor-thin outcome in a presidential election,” Kemp said. “This is simply unacceptable.”
With the state’s hand-recount having concluded on Wednesday, Kemp said Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, also a Republican, had delivered the certified results to him.
A last-ditch legal effort by prominent conservative lawyer Lin Wood had sought an injunction, citing many examples from eyewitnesses of shocking irregularities and ballot mishandling that had emerged during both the preliminary count and the recount.
However, federal judge Steven Grimberg, a Trump appointee, dismissed the suit, saying that Wood lacked standing to press the case and that the evidence offered fell short of what would be necessary to halt the certification.
“Following Judge 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 said.
Kemp said he had heard from countless Georgians who were “extremely concerned” about the systemic failures—whether intentional acts by partisan Democrat election officials or careless acts of negligence that happened to mirror those in other parts of the country.
The state will continue to be the focus of intense nationwide scrutiny as it conducts runoff elections starting next month for both of its US Senate seats, with the majority control of the entire legislative body likely hanging in the balance.
“We demand complete explanations for all discrepancies identified so that our citizens will have complete confidence in our elections,” Kemp said.
“In the runoff election, we cannot have lost memory cards or stacks of uncounted ballots,” he continued. “We must have full transparency in all monitoring and counting. Every legal vote must be counted, and the security of the ballot box must be protected.”
If incumbent Republican Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler both lost to their Democratic challengers, the outcome would be an even Senate split, which would cast the tie-breaking vote to the vice president.
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., who is Biden’s running mate, currently has the most liberal voting record of anyone in the Senate.
Democrats, however, already have begun flooding the state with outside dark money, much as they did in prior Trump-era races including Kemp’s own 2018 gubernatorial contest against Stacey Abrams, the former minority leader of the state legislature.
Abrams, supported by billionaire mega-donors like George Soros, has continued to make her presence known in both state- and national-level politics.
A one-time contender for Biden’s VP pick, she and Raffensperger signed an agreement in February that loosened the standard voting procedures.
However, Wood’s recent lawsuit had argued, among other things, that they lacked the authority to circumvent the legislature in changing election laws.
Kemp reassured citizens of the Peach State that Raffensperger was now committed, following the general-election debacle, to re-establishing more stringent regulations, including a voter-identification requirement for absentee ballots.
“Voters casting their ballots in person must show a photo ID, and we should consider applying that same standard to mail-in balloting,” said the governor.
Kemp said he also had pressed Raffensperger to conduct a signature audit of the recent election. The hand recount sought only to verify the tallies of existing ballots without attempting to authenticate the ballots themselves.
Several of the affidavits provided by Wood’s lawsuit said poll-watchers had seen ballots arrive that appeared to be pre-printed with Biden’s name selected and no crease marks indicating that they had ever been mailed to voters.
“It seems simple enough to conduct a sample audit of signatures on the absentee ballot envelopes and compare those to the signatures on applications and on file at the secretary of state’s office,” Kemp said.