Abrams’ cam­paign seek­ing bal­lots to force a run-off

Dayton Daily News - - NATION & WORLD - By Bill Bar­row and Jeff Martin

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

Un­of­fi­cial re­turns show Kemp with slightly more than 50 per­cent of the vote, 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 Geor- gia — 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 she hopes could still tilt the mar- gin to­ward her.

Dozens of Abrams vol­un­teers con­verged on a ware- house-turned-phone bank near down­town. The goal: Reach vot­ers who used a pro­vi­sional bal­lot to make sure they take steps to en­sure their vote is counted by Fri­day evening.

He­len Bros­nan of t he Na­tional Do­mes­tic Work- ers 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 put Kemp un­der 50 per­cent and force a runoff.

At least 2,000 p eo- ple across the na­tion are in­volved in the ef­fort to find more votes, 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.

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

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 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.

The key ques­tion is how many un­counted bal­lots ac­tu­ally re­main.

Kemp said Thurs­day that it’s fewer than 21,000 — al­most cer­tainly not enough to force a runoff. Abrams’ cam­paign ar­gues the to­tal could be higher, and the sec­re­tary of state’s of­fice has shared scant de­tails as of­fi­cials in Ge­or­gia’s 159 coun­ties keep count­ing.

A runoff, if needed, would be Dec. 4. County au­thor­i­ties must cer­tify fi­nal re­turns by Tues­day.

Stacey Abrams

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