Stacey Abrams isn’t giving up until all votes counted; Kemp confident of eventual victory

ATLANTA – Supporters of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams were hoping Wednesday that thousands of absentee and provisional ballots yet to be counted from Tuesday’s election contained enough votes to force a runoff election with Republican Brian Kemp.

Analysts said Wednesday such an outcome was possible, but not likely. Kemp said he was confident he would ultimately prevail.

Kemp holds a 2-point lead over Abrams with all precincts reporting. Abrams’ hope was to close the gap by some 15,000 votes, enough to deny Kemp an outright majority and force a head-to-head runoff on Dec. 4.

Abrams campaign manager Lauren Groh-Wargo said supporters were looking in several places for those votes.

She spoke of technical problems and irregularities at several polling places on Tuesday. A Fulton County judge ordered hours extended at some polling places Tuesday to give voters who might have been affected more opportunity to cast ballots.

She said there has been confusion in DeKalb County over how to count provisional ballots because they haven’t been tabulated in prior elections.  

And she said Hurricane Michael, which caused mail to Dougherty County to be rerouted through Tallahassee, Florida, could have delayed some absentee ballots.

Craig Albert, a political scientist at Augusta University, said the chance the outstanding ballots would close the gap was slim.

“I think it’s mathematically possible,” he said. “But it doesn’t seem probable that that’s going to happen. Everything would have to happen perfectly in her way for this to occur right now.”

Groh-Wargo said Abrams will not concede the race until every vote is tallied.

“We feel that Georgia voters deserve to have those votes counted,” Groh-Wargo told reporters on Wednesday.

Kemp has not declared victory. But he told supporters early Wednesday he was confident he would ultimately win.

“There are votes left to count, but we have a very strong lead,” he told supporters at his election night party. “And folks, make no mistake, the math is on our side to win this election.”

In one of the nation’s highest-profile gubernatorial elections this year, the candidates are competing to succeed Republican Gov. Nathan Deal. Deal has reached his two-term limit.

Abrams, 44, a former state House minority leader, is trying to become the first Democrat elected governor in Georgia in 20 years, and the first black woman governor in the nation.

Kemp, 55, Georgia’s secretary of state, is trying to keep the office in Republican hands.

With polls showing a tight race in the days before the election, President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence came to Georgia to rally for Kemp. Former President Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey appeared for Abrams.

Albert said Abrams was smart to stay in the race for now. No matter the final result, he said, her performance exceeded expectations.

He called voter turnout this year “remarkable” for a midterm election.

The Abrams campaign released data Wednesday showing 3.9 million voters cast ballots in the gubernatorial race. That was 56 percent more than the 2.5 million who voted in 2014.

As secretary of state, Kemp is Georgia’s top election official.

Abrams and her supporters have accused Kemp and other Republicans of attempting to suppress the Democratic vote.

Kemp’s office on Sunday announced an investigation of the state Democratic Party over an alleged hack of the state’s voter registration system.

Both sides condemned a racist robocall that targeted Abrams and Winfrey.

A group of Georgia voters filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Atlanta on Tuesday seeking to stop Kemp from presiding over the election. 

Groh-Wargo said the fight for votes could last until the election is certified in each county.

That typically happens on the Monday after an election. But it was unclear whether that would be delayed by Veterans Day on Monday.

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