Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams and her campaign, claiming that her loss to GOP gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp was caused by voting irregularities, are preparing to take a drastic step in order to derail Kemp taking office if state officials declare Kemp the winner: a legal challenge that would call for an entirely new election.
As the Associated Press (AP) reports, Abrams and her team may rely on a state statute that has never been used for a race as important as a governor’s race in Georgia. Even before the election, Abrams ripped Kemp, saying on MSNBC, “Brian Kemp has been an exquisite architect of voter suppression for the last decade, and the outside agitators he so blithely dismisses include Asian American groups based in the state of Georgia, Latino groups based in the state of Georgia, African American community organizations based in the state of Georgia who have been doing this work for decades.”
AP is still refusing to call a winner in the race and state officials have not certified the results, despite the fact that Kemp, who has been serving as Georgia’s secretary of state, received roughly 50.2% of the vote, leaving him about 18,000 votes above the threshold required to win by a majority. That margin is large enough so that a December 4 runoff would not be required.
AP notes, “Allegra Lawrence-Hardy, Abrams’ campaign chairwoman, is overseeing a team of almost three-dozen lawyers who in the coming days will draft the petition, along with a ream of affidavits from voters and would-be voters who say they were disenfranchised. Abrams would then decide whether to go to court under a provision of Georgia election law that allows losing candidates to challenge results based on ‘misconduct, fraud or irregularities … sufficient to change or place in doubt the results.’”
If Abrams pursues such a path, she would claim that irregularities were so numerous that 18,000 or more voters were prevented from voting or had their ballots destroyed. Lawrence-Hardy told AP Abrams thinks many of her minority and poorer voters unused to voting met roadblocks when they tried to vote. She added, “These stories to me are such that they have to be addressed. It’s just a much bigger responsibility. I feel like our mandate has blossomed. … Maybe this is our moment.”
Kemp’s campaign referred to Abrams’ legal machinations as a “disgrace to democracy” and an attempt to “count illegal votes.”
Since Abrams’ loss in the election, Abrams campaign workers have been working with voters to find out if any problems existed with their votes as they try to gather information that will buttress Abrams’ case.
Cathy Cox, a Democrat who was Georgia’s secretary of state from 1999 through 2007, said an attempt to rely on the statute has a doubtful chance of success, telling AP, “I would say with pretty great confidence there has probably never been an election … without some irregularity, where some poll worker did not make some mistake.”
Lawrence-Hardy isn’t trying to find 18,000 cases of disenfranchised voters. Instead, she hopes to find enough of them that her team could project there was a bigger problem.