Officials work on ballots at the Gwinnett County Voter Registration and Elections Headquarters, Friday, Nov. 6, 2020, in…
FILE - Officials work on ballots at the Gwinnett County Voter Registration and Elections Headquarters, in Lawrenceville, near Atlanta, Nov. 6, 2020.

The top elections official in the southern U.S. state of Georgia on Wednesday ordered a hand audit of the close vote there between President Donald Trump and President-elect Joe Biden.?

With almost all the votes counted in Georgia, Trump's Democratic challenger for a four-year term in the White House is leading by 14,112 votes out of the nearly 5 million votes cast in the state.?

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, has said he wanted Trump to win the election, but pushed back against Republican claims that the Georgia vote count was plagued by irregularities. Georgia has not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1992.?

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger speaks during a news conference in Atlanta, Nov. 11, 2020.

As he announced the close inspection of the Georgia vote, Raffensperger surrounded himself by local election officials and voiced support and admiration for their work.?

"Their job is hard. They executed their responsibilities, and they did their job," Raffensperger said.?

He said he will invite both Democratic and Republican observers to watch the recount because "the stakes are high."?

Ballots will be re-scanned on computers in the state, in addition to a human review of printed text on ballots, a process officials hope to complete by November 20.?

"This will help build confidence," Raffensperger said. "It will be an audit, a recount and a recanvass, all at once."?

According to unofficial vote counts throughout the United States, Biden has already won the popular vote in enough states to amass more than the 270-vote majority needed in the 538-member Electoral College to claim victory. The Electoral College is determinative in deciding U.S. presidential elections, not the national popular vote, although the most populous states hold the most sway in the Electoral College.?

U.S. national news media have not declared the winner in Georgia, where 16 electoral votes are at stake, nor in the western state of Arizona, where Biden is leading by 12,813 votes and 11 electoral votes are at stake. ?

What Happens Next?

What It Means to Become President-Elect in the US

In the United States, Democrat Joe Biden is being called the president-elect.

President-elect is a descriptive term not an official office. As such, Biden has no power in the government, and he would not until he is inaugurated at noon on January 20, 2021.

American news networks, which track all of the vote counting, determined on November 7 that Biden’s lead had become insurmountable in Pennsylvania, putting him over the 270 electoral votes needed to be president. Within minutes of determining his lead was mathematically assured, they projected him as the winner.

That is why news organizations, including VOA, are calling Biden the "projected winner."

Sometimes, in the case of particularly close elections, when news networks make this call, the other candidate does not concede victory. President Donald Trump has not done so, alleging voter fraud without substantial evidence and vowing to fight on. The president’s position has left Washington lawmakers divided, with Republicans backing a legal inquiry into allegations of vote fraud, even as they celebrate other congressional lawmakers who won their races.

When will the dispute be resolved?

The U.S. election won’t be officially certified for weeks. In the meantime, court challenges and state recounts could occur.

So far, the Trump administration has not provided evidence for any fraud that could overturn the result, but there is still time for more legal challenges.

Once states have certified the vote, pledged electors then cast their votes in the Electoral College in mid-December. Congress then certifies the overall Electoral College result in early January, about two weeks before Inauguration Day.