Stacey Abrams’ Hope For Runoff Helped By Certification Date Extension For Provisional Ballot Count

Barack Obama raises Stacey Abrams hand in victory pose.
Jessica McGowan / Getty Images

Georgia elections director Chris Harvey’s plan to certify results that show Brian Kemp to be victorious in the state’s gubernatorial race on Wednesday, November 14, will have to wait as a federal judge has ordered that the certification date be pushed back to the end of the week. In addition, a set of judgments have been passed to ensure a transparent and complete review of tens of thousands of outstanding provisional ballots, thereby providing a glimmer of hope for Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams.

NBC News reports that U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg ruled in favor of a lawsuit that accused Kemp of acting recklessly in his role as Georgia secretary of state by neglecting to address well-documented problems with the voter database in the days leading up to the midterms. Civic advocacy group Common Cause Georgia filed the suit on the claim that Kemp’s inaction made eligible voters vulnerable to having their information removed or illegally altered from record.

“According to plaintiff’s complaint, information in the state’s voter registration server, used at the polls to determine whether voters are eligible to vote, is vulnerable to multiple security breaches and exploitable by manipulation of voter data,” the judge wrote.

In response, Judge Totenberg has reset the date for the certification of results for Friday at 5 p.m. and ordered the secretary of state’s office to set up and inform the public about a hotline that worried citizens can call in order to verify whether or not their ballots have been counted. The state’s new secretary, Robyn Crittenden, will also have to oversee a process that will evaluate the eligibility of voters who were forced to cast provisional ballots due to issues with their registration.

Meanwhile, in a 17-page order that has been drawn up by U.S. District Judge Leigh Martin May, it is determined that the Civil Rights Act was violated in at least one county that was found to have rejected absentee ballots that exhibited dependencies concerning voters’ birth years. It was ruled by Judge May that those ballots will also need to be considered, USA Today reports.

Abrams’ chances of overcoming a 52,000 deficit in the vote were slim coming into the week. However, she would only need 19,000 provisional votes to come through for her to force a recount, and if the congresswoman should happen to pick up 21,000 of the 27,000 that had yet been counted, it would keep Kemp from the majority he’d need to prevent a December 4 runoff, according to New York Magazine.