Elec­tion bat­tle in Ge­or­gia

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Ar­ti­cle, 5A

AT­LANTA — Repub­li­can Brian Kemp re­signed Thurs­day as Ge­or­gia’s sec­re­tary of state, a day af­ter his cam­paign said he had cap­tured enough votes to be­come gov­er­nor. His Demo­cratic ri­val, Stacey Abrams, re­fused to con­cede and her cam­paign de­manded that state of­fi­cials “count ev­ery sin­gle vote.”

As the state’s top elec­tion of­fi­cial, Kemp over­saw the race, a mar­quee con­test in the na­tion’s midterms. His res­ig­na­tion Thurs­day morn­ing came as a hear­ing be­gan for a law­suit in which five vot­ers asked that he be barred from ex­er­cis­ing his du­ties in any fu­ture man­age­ment of his own elec­tion tally.

Abrams’ cam­paign had re­peat­edly ac­cused Kemp of im­prop­erly us­ing his post as sec­re­tary of state and had been call­ing for him to step down for months, say­ing his con­tin­u­a­tion in the job was a con­flict of in­ter­est. Kemp made clear that he wasn’t step­ping down in re­sponse to that crit­i­cism, but to start on his tran­si­tion to the gov­er­nor’s of­fice.

His res­ig­na­tion took ef­fect just be­fore noon Thurs­day. He said an in­terim sec­re­tary of state had been ap­pointed to over­see the rest of the vote count.

The As­so­ci­ated Press has not called the elec­tion.

Shortly af­ter Kemp’s an­nounce­ment, Abrams’ cam­paign and its le­gal team held a news con­fer­ence to an­nounce that they would not give up the fight to have all bal­lots counted. They in­sisted enough votes re­mained un­counted to af­fect the out­come of the elec­tion.

“This is all pub­lic in­for­ma­tion, ladies and gen­tle­men, pub­lic in­for­ma­tion,” said cam­paign man­ager Lau­ren Groh-Wargo. “We de­mand that Sec­re­tary of State Kemp, his cam­paign … they need to re­lease all the data, all the num­bers, and they need to count ev­ery sin­gle vote.”

The lawyers said they planned to file a law­suit Thurs­day against of­fi­cials in Dougherty County, where they said ab­sen­tee bal­lots were de­layed be­cause of Hur­ri­cane Michael, which dev­as­tated parts of south Ge­or­gia.

They also said they ask the court to en­sure those votes are counted, and to re­quire that elec­tions of­fi­cials pre­serve all po­ten­tial ev­i­dence about the vote count.

“How can any­body claim a vic­tory when there are enough votes that have not been counted that could cause a runoff here?” At­tor­ney John Chan­dler asked. “We will lit­i­gate un­til we have de­ter­mined that ev­ery per­son’s vote has been counted.”

Pre­vi­ously, Abrams had pointed to bal­lots that had yet to be counted in metro At­lanta coun­ties where she won a large share of the vote. Her cam­paign has said she must pick up about 15,000 votes to se­cure a runoff in De­cem­ber.

Kemp said Abrams is us­ing “old math.” With­out pro­vid­ing specifics, he said in a WSB Ra­dio in­ter­view that the num­ber “is ac­tu­ally more like 30,000 votes.”

At a news con­fer­ence with Repub­li­can Gov. Nathan Deal late Thurs­day morn­ing, Kemp de­clared that there are only about 20,000 pro­vi­sional bal­lots that have not yet been counted in the race.

He did not of­fer any de­tails, but in re­sponse to a ques­tion said he would ask about re­leas­ing county-by-county re­sults.

Of Abrams, he said, “Even if she got 100 per­cent of those votes, we still win.”

In fact, Kemp’s of­fice did re­lease a county-level break­down about the same time he started speak­ing in Deal’s of­fice Thurs­day. The of­fice had not im­me­di­ately shared that re­quested in­for­ma­tion the day be­fore, how­ever, even as Kemp’s cam­paign cited the statewide es­ti­mate as his jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for declar­ing vic­tory.

If a runoff is nec­es­sary, it will take place Dec. 4.

AP/At­lanta Jour­nal-Con­sti­tu­tion/BOB AN­DRES

Al­le­gra Lawrence-Hardy (cen­ter), cam­paign chair­man for Ge­or­gia gu­ber­na­to­rial can­di­date Stacey Abrams, and the cam­paign’s at­tor­neys said at a news con­fer­ence Thurs­day in At­lanta that they would con­tinue fight­ing to make sure all bal­lots are counted, in­sist­ing that there are enough to af­fect the out­come of the race. GOP can­di­date Brian Kemp re­signed Thurs­day as sec­re­tary of state, a day af­ter his cam­paign said he had enough votes to win.

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