With all precincts reporting in Georgia after weeks of voter suppression efforts and emerging revelations about issues at polling stations throughout the state on Election Day, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams on Wednesday is holding out hope for a runoff as she trails Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp—accused of abusing "the official powers of his office to interfere in the election to benefit himself and his party"—by an increasingly small margin.
"As we have done since day one, my team will continue to work around the clock to make sure that every ballot is counted—because voting is the bedrock and lifeblood of our democracy."
—Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams
"Make no mistake: This race is not over," Abrams tweeted on Wednesday afternoon. "As we have done since day one, my team will continue to work around the clock to make sure that every ballot is counted—because voting is the bedrock and lifeblood of our democracy."
As Abrams and her supporters wait for the results from absentee and provisional ballots, her campaign manager Lauren Groh-Wargo told reporters on a Wednesday morning conference call that the campaign's attorneys are consulting county election boards and considering litigation. "All options are on the table," she said, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The latest numbers have Kemp ahead of Abrams by about 64,000 votes, putting him at 50.3 percent of the vote to her 48.7 percent. With 37,056 votes, Libertarian Ted Metz has secured just under 1 percent. If Kemp's lead falls below the majority threshold after the mail-in ballots are tallied, there will be a runoff in the race for governor.
Estimating that there are about 77,000 outstanding ballots, Groh-Wargo vowed, "We are committed and remain committed to ensuring that every vote is counted," reiterating Abrams' remarks during a rousing speech at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Atlanta around 2am on Wednesday.
"Votes remain to be counted. There are voices that are waiting to be heard," Abrams had said, refusing to concede in her battle to become the nation's first African-American female governor. "We are going to make sure that every vote is counted—every single vote—because I'll tell you this, in a civilized nation, the machinery of democracy should work for everyone everywhere, not just in certain places and not just on a certain day."
"This election has tested our faith. I'm not going to name names, but some have worked hard to take our voices away, to scare us away, to distract us," she continued. Suggesting that there will be a runoff, Abrams—a 44-year-old former state House minority leader and romance novelist who has garnered support from progressives across the country and even celebrities including Oprah Winfrey—promised, "You're going to have a chance to do a do-over."
Her speech came after Georgia voters encountered hourslong lines and broken machines on Tuesday. Groh-Wargo told reporters on Wednesday that the campaign is officially inquiring about those issues. As the Washington Post reported:
In Fulton County, where some voters stood in lines for up to three hours, in some cases because of an inadequate number of voting machines, WSB Channel 2 reported that 700 machines sat in a warehouse because they were sequestered as part of a pending law suit.
In Dougherty County, which was hit hard when Hurricane Michael roared through southwest Georgia, thousands of mail-in ballots were delayed because county offices were shut down for three days and mail is reportedly being routed through Tallahassee. The Georgia Democratic Party had asked Gov. Nathan Deal (R) to extend the deadline for Dougherty County to received mail-in ballots, but got no response.
Just before the polls closed on Tuesday, Georgia voters supported by the advocacy group Protect Democracy filed a last-minute lawsuit that aims to force Kemp to recuse himself from any vote counts for this race, arguing that "it would be improper, unfair, and contrary to the due process of law for Defendant Kemp to have the power to certify the winners of the 2018 elections, to administer a run-off of the 2018 election, to adjudicate any challenges to the administration of the 2018 election, or otherwise to oversee the reporting of the 2018 election results."