Ge­or­gia, Ari­zona keep count­ing votes

Abrams back­ers fo­cus on pro­vi­sional bal­lots; Se­nate race gets ex­ten­sion

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL - BILL BAR­ROW AND JEFF MAR­TIN

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.

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