The Georgia gubernatorial race won’t be decided until at least Friday evening, and Democrats are doing all they can to ensure sure every vote is counted before the results are certified. On Wednesday, Stacey Abrams partnered with the Georgia Democratic Party to release a TV commercial encouraging voters to share stories of difficulties they may have encountered while trying to cast their ballot. “This election, was your voice heard?” the ad reads. “Too many were silenced. For every voice to be heard, every vote must be counted. Share your story. Make Georgia count.”
WATCH: In our latest ad, we discuss the fight to count every vote and how we must make sure every Georgian's voice is heard. Share your voting story here: https://t.co/eKopViJfgG. pic.twitter.com/OsgZbYZwFT
— Georgia Democrat (@GeorgiaDemocrat) November 13, 2018
The post-campaign campaign ad is a sign of just how fierce the fight has rown to ensure the legitimacy of Georgia’s elections. The months leading up to last Tuesday’s midterms were plagued by concern over voter suppression measures taken by Republican candidate Brian Kemp in his capacity as secretary of state, a position he refused to step down from until after the election. Over 300,000 voters were improperly purged from the rolls during Kemp’s tenure at the helm of Georgia’s elections, and his controversial “exact match” policy, which holds that the information on a voter’s registration must mirror that of other official documents, has been struck down in court as restrictive to voting rights. On Monday, a federal judge ruled that because of concern over unaccounted for provisional ballots, acting Secretary of State Robyn Crittenden must delay certifying the election results until at least Friday. The judge also ruled that the state must create and publicize a hotline and website so that voters can confirm whether their ballots were counted.
Though on election night it appeared Kemp was going to cruise to victory over Abrams, the race tightened as the night drew to a close. Abrams did not concede, believing that after provisional ballots were tallied neither candidate would finish with at least 50 percent of the vote, forcing a December 4th runoff. Kemp currently sits at around 50.3 percent and leads Abrams by just under 60,000 votes. Though Abrams believes there to still be around 30,000 outstanding provisional ballots, the state has claimed there are only 21,000 such ballots yet to be counted. Abrams would need to bring in around 19,000 additional ballots to force a recount, and around 21,000 to trigger a runoff.
The fight to ensure every vote is counted hasn’t been confined to television and the Internet. On Tuesday afternoon, protesters occupied the Georgia State Capitol to hold the government accountable. Over a dozen people were arrested, including Georgia state Sen. Nikema Williams. “I showed up at the Capitol today for a special session to take care of the citizens of Georgia,” she said after being released. “I saw I had constituents protesting for their voices to be heard. There are countless Georgians who cast their ballots and still don’t feel like their voices are heard. I joined them down on the floor, and I was singled out as a black female senator standing in the rotunda with constituents.”
BREAKING: @NikemaForSenate just got released from jail after being arrested at today’s #counteveryvote rally at the Georgia Capitol. “I am incredibly proud and will continue to stand with the citizens of Georgia to demand that their votes be counted.” pic.twitter.com/SA5V3F1oAN
— Care In Action (@CareInActionUSA) November 14, 2018
State Rep. David Dreyer was also present but, unlike Williams, he wasn’t arrested. Dreyer, who is white, agreed with Williams that race may have played a role in the senator’s arrest. “For some reason, Senator Williams was treated differently than I was treated,” he told reporters, claiming that they both went to the Capitol in an effort to deescalate the situation, which had grown tense as law enforcement officials clashed with protesters.
“For some reason, I saw Capitol police lined up three abreast, row after row after row, looking like they were trying to stop a riot, when we were standing up for people’s right to vote,” Dreyer added. “So this is not democracy. This looks a lot more like an authoritarian government. And it seems like that’s happening a lot these days, doesn’t it?”