Georgia, Arizona keep counting votes
Abrams backers focus on provisional ballots; Senate race gets extension
ATLANTA — 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.
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 — was counted by Friday evening, the deadline.
A majority-black county with more than 750,000 residents in metro Atlanta, DeKalb, said it would remain open past normal hours Friday to accommodate provisional voters who needed to provide identification so their votes could be counted.
But two groups supporting Abrams’ call to count all votes, ProGeorgia and Care in Action, said at least 12 other counties had certified election results before Friday, a move that could leave provisional ballots uncounted. The secretary of state’s office did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
Abrams’ lawyers 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.
Returns show Kemp with a roughly 63,000-vote lead over Abrams.
Meanwhile, Arizona Republicans and Democrats agreed Friday to give rural voters an extra chance to fix problems with their ballots in the count of the state’s tight Senate race, resolving a GOP lawsuit that sought to stop urban voters from using those very same procedures.
The settlement was technically between Republicans and the state’s county recorders, but Democrats agreed to it as it was announced in a Phoenix courtroom Friday afternoon. Arizona’s 15 counties now have until Wednesday to address the issue.
The Republican lawsuit alleged that the state’s county recorders don’t follow a uniform standard for allowing voters to address problems with their mail-in ballots, and that Maricopa and Pima counties improperly allow the fixes for up to five days after Election Day. Democrat Kyrsten Sinema has jumped into a slight lead over Republican Martha McSally in the midst of the slow vote count.
Four local Republican parties filed the lawsuit Wednesday night challenging the state’s two biggest counties for allowing voters to help resolve problems with their mail-in ballot signatures after Election Day. If the signature on the voter registration doesn’t match that on the sealed envelope, both Maricopa and Pima County allow voters to help them fix, or “cure” it, up to five days after Election Day.
Many other counties only allow voters to cure until polls close on Election Day.
The race remained too close to call Friday with more than 400,000 ballots still uncounted.
Information for this article was contributed by Errin Haines Whack, Bob Christie and Nicholas Riccardi of The Associated Press.