US Election: Trump's claims of mail-in voter fraud caused him to lose - Georgia Republican official

Donald Trump has only himself to blame for losing the state of Georgia, according to the Republican in charge of running the local election. 

A recount in the state, which hadn't voted for a Democrat presidential candidate since 1992, went to Joe Biden on the initial count, and while a recount has narrowed the gap between him and Trump, he's on track to hold onto the state. 

"I don't believe at the end of the day it'll change the total results," Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger told CNN.

Biden's 14,000-vote lead has shrunk by a couple of thousand after the discovery of a memory card containing votes that weren't included in the initial tally - nowhere near enough to change the result.

But if Trump hadn't repeatedly made false claims about mail-in ballots, he might have won the state, Raffensperger this week told Peacock TV, a streaming service operated by NBCUniversal.

"There were actually 24,000 Republican voters that voted absentee in the June primary, and those same 24,000 voters did not show up to vote in either absentee or in-person on the day of election or the 15 days of early voting we have," he told The Mehdi Hasan Show.

"They just disappeared and they were ripe for the picking, they were there in June for the primary and they should have come home and voted for President Trump in the fall." 

Trump won the Georgia primary to become the Republican Party's candidate again in June with 100 percent of the vote. 

Most mail-in ballots came from registered Democrats, figures show, and many states were forced by law to count them after those cast on the day, which generally came from Republicans. This resulted in a result on election night which appeared tied or to favour Trump, but swung in Biden's favour in the following days. 

Trump has spent much of November on the golf course.
Trump has spent much of November on the golf course. Photo credit: Reuters

Despite the widespread threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, he spent much of the election campaign railing against mail-in voting, saying it would result in widespread fraud. There is no evidence this is true, with only isolated cases cropping up from time to time - one study finding Americans are more likely to be struck by lightning than commit voter fraud, and others finding similarly negligible rates. 

Trump is relying on recounts and court cases to win a second term in the White House, without much success to date. On Twitter, he claimed on Thursday the recount was "a joke" and claimed "thousands of fraudulent votes have been found". He provided no evidence, and CNN called it "blatant misinformation". Twitter itself labelled the tweet as "disputed", one of nine it flagged from the US President in a single day.

Despite no evidence of fraud, a Reuters/Ipsos poll of Republican voters found half of them believe the election was stolen. 

Only 73 percent of Americans overall were confident Biden had won the election, despite Biden's commanding lead in the Electoral College - 306-232 according to most major US media outlets. 

Georgia officials said they'd uncovered no evidence of widespread fraud in the recount. 

"He's been misinformed on that front," said Gabriel Sterling, the state's voting system manager.

Election officials in Wisconsin - another state Trump is claiming he won, despite being behind by 20,000 votes - also said it was unlikely a partial recount there would change the result.

The Trump campaign has paid US$3 million for the recount in two counties, in which Biden got 577,455 votes and Trump just 213,157, AP reports. One of the counties - Milwaukee - has a large African-American population, and Biden won between 80 and 90 percent of their vote nationwide, exit polls showed.

The other county is home to the state capitol of Madison and the University of Wisconsin, and is considered a liberal stronghold. 

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said it wasn't surprising Trump would want just "one last mass gathering that will put people's health in peril". 

A statewide recount would have cost US$7.9 million. 

Biden won the nationwide popular vote by more than 5.8 million - more than the population of New Zealand, and the 15th-biggest margin in US presidential election history.