Georgia Governor Race Too Close To Call, Runoff Is Likely

Democrat Stacey Abrams refuses to concede to Republican Brian Kemp despite a vote deficit.

Stacey Abrams during 2018 midterm vote count
Jessica McGowan / Getty Images

Democrat Stacey Abrams refuses to concede to Republican Brian Kemp despite a vote deficit.

Voters cast their ballots on November 6 in the highly anticipated midterm election that determines who will be the next governor of the Peach State. Once all the votes were tallied Wednesday, Democrat Stacey Abrams had a sizable deficit in the vote count compared to Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp. Meanwhile, Stacey Abrams refused to concede the race Wednesday morning, saying the election results are “too close to call.”

Georgia polls closed at 7 p.m. ET with some exceptions, including two precincts near Morehouse and Spelman that stayed open until 10 p.m. The two precincts were allowed to say open later because the NAACP won a lawsuit at the last minute, as announced on Twitter. Additionally, Pittman Park stayed open later because voters encountered lengthy queues because of long lines and the fact that there were not enough voting machines.

An early voting poll from WSB-TV 2 and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution showed that the two gubernatorial candidates were in a dead heat with Stacey Abrams getting 46.9 percent of the vote, Kemp getting 46.7 percent, and 4.8 percent being undecided. The early voting results put them at 0.2 percent apart, with Abrams leading by a razor-thin margin. The poll has a 3 percent margin of error, and it put the results at a statistical tie.

Under Georgia law, if neither Abrams nor Brian Kemp gets more than 50 percent of the vote in the General Election, they would head to a runoff in December.

Allies of Kemp have figured for some time that they would struggle in early voting numbers. However, they counted on swamping Democrats on Election Day when traditional voters tend to cast their ballots. And, if early Georgia election results were any indication Tuesday night, that was about to happen as votes rolled in and the percentages indicated that Brian Kemp was edging forward.

The early election results were provided in a real-time graph by WSB-TV at 9:11 p.m. Tuesday, and it showed a 20 percent completion of the total ballot count. The graph illustrated that out of the 1,045,769 votes polled from the 538 of 2,634 precincts that Kemp had 62 percent, Abrams had 37 percent, and Libertarian candidate Ted Metz had 1 percent.

Wednesday morning saw Kemp lose a little of that early momentum, but Abrams still trailed behind him by about 3.1 percentage points. It was “a difference of about 115,000 votes out of a total 3.75 million votes counted,” reports CBS News. As of 5:15 a.m., Kemp’s lead over Abrams had shrunk “to about 1.9 points and 75,000 votes out of 3.87 million counted.” CBS News said this morning that they were characterizing the election results as “leaning Republican.”

Stacey Abrams refused to concede to her opponent, even though the vote count had a deficit. She discussed the reasons she was staying in the race with her supporters at 2 a.m.

“Democracy only works when we work for it, when we fight for it, when we demand it, and apparently today when we stand in line for hours to meet it at the ballot box. I am here today to tell you there are votes remaining to be counted. Voices are waiting to be heard.”

Campaign manager Lauren Groh-Wargo said that there were thousands of provisional and absentee ballots that had not been counted yet. In light of that, she added, “We believe [the election] is likely heading to a runoff.”

The battle for the governor’s seat between Stacey Abrams and Brian Kemp has been a bitter one with each side accusing the other of wrongdoings and using dirty political tactics.

Law & Crime reports that Brian Kemp alleged Sunday that the Georgia Democratic party attempted to hack the state’s voter registration system, an allegation they emphatically deny. Both parties have asked for someone to look into the matter, and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is now moving forward with a criminal investigation into the incident.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp
Secretary of State Brian Kemp speaks at Election Night in Athens, Georgia. Kevin C. Cox / Getty Images

Proponents of Stacey Abram’s campaign accused Brian Kemp of voter suppression early on, and critics said that he should not be overseeing an election process since he is the Republican candidate. In an attempt to limit his powers, voters filed a lawsuit in order to hamstring his ability to oversee the race.

The lawsuit, prepared by the watchdog group Protect Democracy, will prevent the gubernatorial candidate from being involved in counting votes, certifying results, “as well as any runoff or recount procedures,” reports CNBC.

The suit alleges that Brian Kemp “used the official powers of his office to interfere in the election to benefit himself and his political party and disadvantage his opponents.”

The NAACP had stated they wish that they could bring criminal charges against Brian Kemp for voter issues and voter suppression. According to the Hill, NAACP President Derrick Johnson said in Atlanta right before the polls closed, “It’s unfortunate that Brian Kemp did not step down as Secretary of State to ensure we had a fair election.”

The allegations of voter suppression have been widely reported by the media, and it may be one of the reasons Stacey Abrams is sticking around to see how everything shakes out in the end.