Vol­un­teers track­ing down Ge­or­gia vot­ers

The Sun Herald - - 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-clos­eto-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 grew up in South Mis­sis­sippi and 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 Con­gress­man 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 Tues­day, the dead­line for coun­ties to cer­tify elec­tion re­sults to the state.

With le­gal wran­gles open­ing and Abrams show­ing no signs of con­ced­ing, the dis­pute is pro­long­ing a bit­ter con­test with his­tor­i­cal sig­nif­i­cance and na­tional po­lit­i­cal reper­cus­sions.

Abrams’ cam­paign man­ager, Lau­ren Groh-Wargo, said Kemp was to blame for prob­lems be­cause he was the sec­re­tary of state, Ge­or­gia’s top elec­tion of­fi­cial, and tried to tamp down mi­nor­ity votes.

“Th­ese sup­pres­sive tac­tics are rem­i­nis­cent of the Old South, tac­tics that have been res­ur­rected by Brian Kemp, who forced the state to al­low him to over­see his own elec­tion, and had him be the de­cider on who was the win­ner,” she said at a press con­fer­ence.

Abrams would be­come the first black woman elected gover­nor of any U.S. state. Kemp seeks to main­tain Repub­li­can dom­i­nance in a grow­ing, diver­si­fy­ing Deep South state po­si­tioned to be­come a pres­i­den­tial bat­tle­ground.

MELINA MARA The Wash­ing­ton Post

Stacey Abrams, the Demo­cratic can­di­date for gover­nor in Ge­or­gia, is try­ing to force a runoff with her op­po­nent.

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