Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump in the 2020 Georgia Presidential Election by roughly 14,000 votes. Due to the close margin of victory, Georgia announced there would be a full statewide audit and a hand recount of all ballots cast. Results were then certified by Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Nov. 20, 2020, affirming Biden’s win. On Nov. 22, Trump exercised his right under Georgia state law to request a recount that would involve re-tabulating every ballot through a scanner, the same way they were originally counted in the days following the Nov. 3 election. Biden was declared the winner of the recount on Dec. 7, 2020.
Despite the repeated confirmations of Biden’s win in Georgia, Trump and his allies continued to demand additional audits and investigations while also engaging in a pressure campaign against Raffesnsperger and other Georgia officials. Their efforts resulted in audits of the results from numerous Georgia counties, including Fulton County, the state’s largest:
- An audit of absentee votes from Cobb County was launched the week of Dec. 27, 2020 in response to pressure from the Trump campaign. It resulted in a conclusion of no fraud among the 15,000 randomly selected ballots examined by state officials.
- In May 2021, a judge authorized unsealing 147,000 mail-in ballots from Fulton County for further inspection after a lawsuit was filed by Georgia voters. However, the case was later dismissed before an audit could take place because the plaintiffs “failed to allege a particularized injury.”
- Oconee and Bartow Counties conducted audits that compared hand and computer tabulations. The two audits resulted in identical results from the two vote-counting methods and did not find any fraud.
- Trump pressured Georgia state officials into conducting more extensive audits and urged them to find voter fraud which would overturn Biden’s victory in the state. On the Jan. 2 call with Georgia’s Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, Trump said “We think that if you check the signatures — a real check of the signatures going back in Fulton County — you’ll find at least a couple of hundred thousand of forged signatures of people who have been forged.” In fact, an examination of ballot signatures had already been completed by the time of the call and it did not reveal any fraud.
- In another call with Frances Watson, the lead elections investigator for Secretary of State Raffensperger, Trump urged her to find “dishonesty” and told her she would be “praised” when she located evidence of election fraud.”
- Speaking about the third audit in Fulton County in May 2021, former Republican U.S. Sen. Kelly Loeffler issued a statement that read, “Voter confidence in our election system is the bedrock of our republic. Unfortunately, inconsistencies in Fulton County’s November 2020 absentee ballots cast serious doubt on voters’ faith in our elections.”
- In an April 2022 speech before Oconee County Republicans, former U.S. Senator David Perdue (R-Ga.) called for extensive audits, stating, “I want a law enforcement agency that will enforce the voting laws, I want an audit process, and I want to get rid of these blessed—we’re in a church—but the Dominion machines have to go.” Perdue was alluding to a false conspiracy theory that voting machines manufactured by Dominion were faulty.
- Nearly a year after the election, Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene (R-Ga.) said at a Trump rally, “There’s something all of us know in Georgia. Trump won Georgia. That’s why I’m calling for an audit in Georgia. There’s no more excuses. If the people of Georgia want an audit, then they should have an audit.”
- Georgia’s state-wide and county-based audits appear to have been mostly taxpayer-funded. The first statewide audit ordered by Secretary of State Raffensberger in November 2020 cost each county a different amount of money. For instance, Fulton County spent more than $200,000 on the audit while DeKalb County spent $180,000.
- None of the various audits and recounts succeeded in identifying any substantial patterns of fraud or misconduct that would undermine Biden’s victory in Georgia.
- Gabriel Sterling, the Republican chief operating officer and chief financial officer for the Georgia secretary of state’s office said “Our law enforcement officers and secretary of state’s office spent literally thousands of hours examining ballots in Fulton County and other counties trying to track these kinds of claims down, and so far we’ve seen nothing give any merit to it.”