Stacey Abrams Sues to Count Provisional Ballots in Georgia Race - Rolling Stone
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Stacey Abrams Sues to Count Provisional Ballots in Heated Georgia Governor’s Race

The gubernatorial race between Abrams and Kemp has been plagued by voter suppression, and may be headed toward a recount or runoff

Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams leaves the stage after addressing supporters during an election night watch party, in Atlanta, Nov 6, 2018

Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams leaves the stage after addressing supporters during an election night watch party in Atlanta, Nov. 6th, 2018

John Amis/AP/Shutterstock

Stacey Abrams isn’t giving up. The Democratic candidate for governor of Georgia filed a lawsuit Sunday insisting that provisional ballots in heavily Democratic counties around Atlanta be counted before the 2018 election is officially certified. The suit also asks that the deadline to certify the election, set for Tuesday, be extended by one day.

According to the Georgia Secretary of State, 21,190 provisional ballots were cast on November 6th — a number the Abrams campaign calls historic. “Each of these tens of thousands of ballots represents the voice of a Georgian voter, and now, those voices are at risk of not being heard,” the campaign says in its suit.

Provisional ballots are used when there’s a question about a voter’s eligibility — if his or her name can’t be found on the voter rolls, for instance. They’re particularly important in Georgia this year because, according to an investigation by journalist Greg Palast, Abrams’ opponent, Brian Kemp, improperly purged 340,000 Georgia voters from the rolls during his tenure as Georgia’s Secretary of State. (Palast’s discovery this year stemmed from an earlier story he wrote about the GOP’s nationwide effort to remove voters from the rolls for Rolling Stone in 2016.)

Kemp’s margin in the race now stands at less than 59,000 votes as votes continue to trickle in; if that lead continues to dwindle, it could fall below the threshold required to force a runoff or a recount. According to calculations by the Abrams campaign, they need 20,893 votes to trigger a runoff, 18,555 for the race to go to a recount.

“The bottom line is this race is not over,”  Abrams’ campaign manager, Lauren Groh-Wargo,  said in a phone call with reporters on Sunday. “It is still too close to call, and we do not have confidence in the secretary of state’s office.” On Twitter, Groh-Wargo, accused the Secretary of State’s office of removing voting data from before 2018 and information about the 2018 absentee counts over the weekend.

The campaign is also asking a judge to count 1,095 absentee ballots in Gwinnette County it says were thrown out over minor inconsistencies, like the wrong date. The Kemp campaign, which has unilaterally declared victory, dismissed the suit on Sunday. “Stacey Abrams lost and her concession is long overdue,”  spokesman Ryan Mahoney said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the race to replace Kemp — and decide how future elections are run in Georgia — has gone to a runoff. Democrat John Barrow will face Republican  Brad Raffensperger in a rematch on December 4th.


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