Stacey Abrams Files Suit To Force Georgia Gubernatorial Election Into A Runoff

Stacey Abrams, Democratic nominee for governor of Georgia, speaks during an election night watch party in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018.
Photo by Kevin D. Liles/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Georgia's Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Stacey Abrams, filed suit in a federal court Sunday, seeking to stop Georgia's election officials from tossing out more than a thousand absentee and provisional ballots — a move that she hopes could send the state's gubernatorial election into a runoff.

CNN reports that Abrams' team is convinced that they're just a few thousand votes away from forcing a runoff, even though they currently run 59,000 votes behind the Republican candidate, Brian Kemp, and 100% of precincts have reported in.

Kemp currently has 50.3% of the vote. If that share dips below 50%, he'll be forced into a runoff with Abrams.

"This race is not over. It's still too close to call. And we cannot have confidence in the secretary of state's numbers," Abrams' campaign manager told media on Sunday. "In short, our legal strategy is simple: Count every vote."

Abrams seeks to have more than just "every vote" counted, however. She wants all votes, even those apparently cast illegally and rejected by election officials, counted toward her total. Her team's federal lawsuit covers around a thousand absentee ballots that CNN says were rejected because of "missing information," but also several thousand provisional ballots cast in "Gwinnett and Dekalb counties...[rejected] because [the voters] are registered in a different county."

Those voters may have voted by mistake, or they may have voted twice, in their home county and in a separate county, hoping a provisional ballot cast in a different county would be counted. Provisional ballots are only counted in the event of a very close race, and even then, election officials abide by very strict standards.

Even if Abrams wins the lawsuit, she may not have enough votes to topple Kemp. According to Fox News, Abrams would need more than 20,000 additional votes to pull Kemp under 50%. But the lawsuit filed Sunday could at least result in a temporary injunction, delaying Georgia counties from certifying their final votes — an action which must happen by Tuesday.

Delaying the final certification could give Kemp's campaign the time needed to find thousands more discarded votes to challenge in Georgia's other counties.

But even that's still a long shot, an expert told Fox News :"So her margin in those uncounted votes needs to be really high. ... To put it simply, she's running out of votes."

"That said, I think the Abrams campaign still faces an uphill battle in first convincing a court about the need for a recount and second, having the recount net enough votes to force a runoff. As a general matter, recounts rarely end up changing the outcomes of elections," said another.

Abrams lost the election by a clear margin on Election Day, but has been pushing — and, it seems, raising money — for a recount, charging that Kemp, who served as director of the state's election board before and during his run for governor, "suppressed" the vote in Georgia by purging long-time non-voters from the rolls just months before the 2018 midterms. Abrams has also charged that voters faced long lines and additional suppressive efforts at the polls on Election Day.

Georgia is now one of three states left with uncertain election results. In Arizona, count and recount efforts are ongoing in the battle for Sen. Jeff Flake's vacated seat between Democrat Kyrsten Sinema and Republican Martha McSally. Two races in Florida — the gubernatorial race between Democrat Andrew Gillum and Republican Ron DeSantis, and the Senate race between Republican Rick Scott and Democrat Bill Nelson — remain too close to call, mired in recounts in the Southern Florida counties, Broward and Miami-Dade.

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