Georgia Governor’s Race Remains Up In The Air

The issues are different than in Florida or Arizona, but the Georgia Governor's race remains unresolved as Stacey Abrams hopes to find enough votes to force the race into a runoff.

In addition to Florida and Arizona, there is an ongoing battle in Georgia over the outcome of the race for Governor of Georgia between former Secretary of State Brian Kemp and state legislator Stacey Abrams:

ATLANTA — The allies of Stacey Abrams, the Democratic candidate trailing in the Georgia governor’s race, hit the streets and the phones on Friday in a vigorous last-minute push to get anyone who cast a provisional ballot to ensure that their vote would count, in the hopes of forcing the close, bitter and expensive contest into a runoff.

It was a dramatic and unorthodox political effort, a kind of post-campaign campaign to give Ms. Abrams the chance to go into a Dec. 4 overtime round with Brian Kemp, her Republican adversary.

Earlier this week, Mr. Kemp declared victory in the race and argued that no math could bring his total to less than 50 percent, which would automatically force a runoff. Mr. Kemp currently has 50.3% of the 3.9 million total votes cast, leading Ms. Abrams by about 63,000 votes.

President Trump, who has endorsed Mr. Kemp, declared him the victor on Twitter Friday. “It is time to move on!” he said.

It is not clear whether there are enough uncounted votes to help Ms. Abrams. She needs to amass about 24,000 votes to prompt a recount, and is just shy of 26,000 votes to pull Mr. Kemp below a bare majority and force a runoff next month.

The office of the secretary of state — which was occupied by Mr. Kemp until he resigned on Thursday — said on Wednesday night that it believed fewer than 25,000 votes remained to be tabulated across the state, including fewer than 22,000 provisional ballots.

Ms. Abrams’s campaign questioned those statistics, contending that with military and overseas ballots facing a Friday deadline for return, there was no way for the state to know how many ballots were pending.

The suspicion about Mr. Kemp’s motives run deep in Georgia. He has overseen legal purges of more than 1.5 million inactive voters, and moved more than 50,000 voters to “pending” status because their registration forms did not precisely match personal information on government databases. He has also basked in the support of Mr. Trump, who has made numerous unsupported voter fraud allegations.

Two days before the election, when Mr. Kemp was still serving as secretary of state, his office announced, with scant evidence, that it had opened an inquiry into the Democratic Party of Georgia for an attempted hacking of the voter registration system. Democrats assailed the announcement as bogus, and a political stunt.

“What Georgia and the country is witnessing in this election is blatant and callous voter suppression,” said State Senator Nikema Williams, state director of Care in Action, an advocacy group for domestic workers that also arranged much of the postelection phone banking. “We are doing everything we can to defend democracy in the cradle of the civil rights movement.”

Late Friday, a pair of groups, including Care in Action, said that at least 12 of Georgia’s 159 counties had “prematurely certified election results.”

Candice Broce, a spokeswoman for the Georgia secretary of state, did not immediately respond to a message on Friday.

Mr. Kemp has called accusations of voter suppression a “farce,” and noted that registrations rose about one million statewide after he took office in 2010.

There was also widespread mistrust about his office’s claims about the number of uncounted ballots. “I don’t trust anything he says around the numbers,” Ms. Williams said in an interview. “What I do want to make sure is that every vote is counted.”

The effort to lock down the provisional votes unfolded Friday as an end-of-day deadline approached. The activists’ main target on Friday were those Georgia voters who had showed up to vote but had some kind of issue proving their identity at the polls.

Such voters were allowed to vote with a provisional ballot on Tuesday, but their ballots would not be counted unless they returned to their county elections boards with a valid ID to rectify any outstanding problems

As a preliminary matter, it’s worth noting that Kemp is no longer the Georgia Secretary of State. While he had resisted calls to do so while the campaign was going on, he resigned his position shortly after the campaign ended. At the very least, this means that he will not be supervising the office responsible for supervising the vote count and resolving disputes that may arise regarding vote counts that could ultimately decide whether or not there is a recount. While this is clearly something he should have done before the campaign was over, I suppose this is a matter of ‘better late than never’ and at least means that he will not be in a position to decide issues that could have an impact on the outcome of the race and any post-election disputes that might come up as a result of that process.

The issue in Georgia isn’t so much the hope on the part of Abrams and her supporters that they could uncover enough votes to give her the win outright. Given the gap between the two candidates, that seems to be rather unlikely. Instead, the hope on Abrams part is that a full count of the outstanding ballots, plus a recount if permitted under Georgia law, that she could gain enough votes to force a runoff election that would take place in early December. According to the most recently reported results, Brian Kemp leads with 1,975,077 votes (50.33%) and Stacey Abrams has 1,912,127 (48.73%). Additionally, Ted Metz, the Libertarian Party candidate, currently has 37,113 votes (0.95%). The total vote gap between Kemp and Abrams presently stands at 62,590 votes and while it’s incredibly unlikely that Abrams would be able to pick up enough votes to put herself in the lead. Under the circumstances, the best she can hope for is to shave enough votes off, either in the form of votes for herself or votes for the Libertarian Party candidate, to get Kemp’s percentage of the vote under 50%, which would then lead to a recount that would take place in December.

The issues in Georgia are somewhat more complicated than those in Florida and don’t generally involve allegations that votes are not properly being counted. Additionally, even if Abrams does manage to force a recount, the odds would still seem to favor Kemp pulling off a win in a head-to-head race between the two candidates. Nonetheless, this is yet another unresolved race that we’ll have to wait at least a week or so for before we know the outcome.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2018, US Politics, , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    From a purely tactical standpoint, making sure that the vote that one might not wish to have counted are never cast in the first place is the superior approach. Kudos to Kemp for realizing that. Still, I think that stepping down was probably a mistake given that “those who cast the ballots decide nothing–those who count the ballots decide everything,” but I suppose that can’t be helped, and his minions in the Secretary of State’s office will make sure that the voters have done the right thing anyway.

    ReplyReply
  2. Tyrell says:

    “best she can hope for is to shave enough votes off” which means counting votes using the Common Core funny numbers math: 2 + 2 = maybe 5?

    ReplyReply

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