Vol­un­teers work to track down Georgia vot­ers

Belleville News-Democrat - - News - BY BILL BAR­ROW AND JEFF MARTIN

Vol­un­teers spread out Fri­day try­ing to find any bal­lots that could help Demo­crat Stacey Abrams close the gap against Repub­li­can Brian Kemp in their un­set­tled, too-close-to-call race for Georgia gov­er­nor.

Un­of­fi­cial re­turns show Kemp with an ad­van­tage, and he’s al­ready re­signed as sec­re­tary of state to start a tran­si­tion with the bless­ing of the out­go­ing GOP gov­er­nor, Nathan Deal. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump weighed in with a tweet that said Kemp “ran a great race in Georgia – he won. It is time to move on!”

Yet Abrams, who hopes to be­come the na­tion’s first black fe­male gov­er­nor, sent out vol­un­teers and cam­paign staff in search of votes that she hopes could still tilt the mar­gin to­ward her.

In a fran­tic ef­fort to make sure every pos­si­ble vote is counted, dozens of vol­un­teers con­verged on a ware­house-turned-phone bank near down­town. The goal: reach vot­ers who used a pro­vi­sional bal­lot to make sure they take steps to en­sure their vote – for Abrams or Kemp – is counted by Fri­day evening.

He­len Bros­nan of the Na­tional Do­mes­tic Work­ers Al­liance stood on a chair and shouted, “How many calls do you think we can make? Can we make hun­dreds of calls? Let’s do this!”

Abrams’ lawyers also are ex­plor­ing op­tions to en­sure all votes are counted. Her cam­paign lead­ers say they be­lieve she needs to pick up about 25,000 votes to force a runoff.

At least 2,000 peo­ple across the na­tion are in­volved in that ef­fort, said state Sen. Nikema Wil­liams, the Georgia di­rec­tor for Care In Ac­tion, which ad­vo­cates for more than 2 mil­lion do­mes­tic work­ers and care work­ers na­tion­wide.

“We’re in the cra­dle of the Civil Rights move­ment, the home of Con- gress­man John Lewis who lit­er­ally bled on the bridge at Selma to make sure that ev­ery­body had the right to vote,” she said.

Marisa Franco, 27, saw a friend’s Face­book post about the ef­fort, then showed up at the ware­house to vol­un­teer Fri­day morn­ing. “I think that it’s re­ally cen­tral to democ­racy that ev­ery­body who is el­i­gi­ble to vote can vote and has the least amount of bar­ri­ers pos­si­ble, so I’m just here to make sure that every vote counts,” she said.

Re­turns show Kemp with 50.3 per­cent of al­most 4 mil­lion votes, a roughly 63,000-vote lead over Abrams. That’s a nar­row sum, con­sid­er­ing the near-pres­i­den­tial elec­tion year turnout, though suf­fi­cient for the ma­jor­ity re­quired for out­right vic­tory.

The As­so­ci­ated Press has not de­clared a win­ner in the race for Georgia gov­er­nor. The AP will re­assess the race on Tues­day, the dead­line for coun­ties to cer­tify elec­tion re­sults to the state.

JEFF MARTIN AP

He­len Bros­nan, of the Na­tional Do­mes­tic Work­ers Al­liance, trains vol­un­teers who are work­ing the phones in a ware­house Fri­day in At­lanta. They are fran­ti­cally try­ing to reach Ge­or­gians who voted with pro­vi­sional bal­lots to make sure their votes are counted.

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