Vol­un­teers search for votes in Ga.

Abrams’ cam­paign tries to find any bal­lots that could help her close gap

The Oklahoman - - NEWS - BY 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.

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, the dead­line.

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!”

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.

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.

Races for gover­nor and U.S. Se­nate also are tight in Florida, which Trump re­ferred to in a tweet that said: “You mean they are just now find­ing votes in Florida and Ge­or­gia but the Elec­tion was on Tues­day? Let’s blame the Rus­sians and de­mand an im­me­di­ate apol­ogy from Pres­i­dent Putin!”

[AP PHOTO]

He­len Bros­nan, of the Na­tional Do­mes­tic Work­ers Al­liance, trains vol­un­teers who are work­ing the phones Fri­day in an At­lanta ware­house, where they are fran­ti­cally try­ing to reach Ge­or­gians who voted with pro­vi­sional bal­lots to make sure their votes are counted.

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