Kemp has resigned his post as secretary of state and declared victory. President Donald Trump tweeted that it’s “time to move on.” Conservative actor James Woods tweeted to his nearly 2 million followers that Abrams is “not very classy” for holding on. And the publisher/editor of the Monroe County Reporter, the newspaper for a rural district outside of Macon, Georgia, that voted for Kemp, told Abrams’ campaign in an email: “Just let us know when she concedes. It’s getting embarrassing.”
Editor Will Davis told HuffPost he sent the email because he was frustrated by the number of press releases he was still seeing from the Abrams campaign days after the election, and said he doesn’t see a path to victory for her. “It’s over,” he said. “She may have a future in Georgia politics, but being a sore loser isn’t a way to add to her support.”
It may seem unusual for a candidate to refuse to concede several days after her opponent has declared victory in the midterm elections. But nothing is normal about Georgia’s race for governor.
Abrams, who would be the first black female governor in the history of the nation, had to devote an enormous amount of energy during her campaign to fighting the voter suppression tactics of her opponent, who refused to resign his position as secretary of state to run for governor and therefore oversaw his own election. Kemp now holds 50.33 percent of the vote to Abrams’ 48.72, and a candidate in Georgia has to win at least 50 percent to win the race outright.
Abrams maintains that the hundreds of thousands of people Kemp allegedly blocked from the polls could easily push her to victory, or at least a runoff.
There were numerous accounts of voting difficulties in Georgia on Tuesday ― particularly for people of color. Voters were denied a ballot and turned away from the polls because they hadn’t voted in the last three years and/or the last two federal elections, and Kemp’s office had purged hundreds of thousands of people from the rolls for “inactivity.”
The Associated Press reported that Kemp’s office put 53,000 voter registration applications on hold ― 70 percent of them from people of color ― because of the state’s controversial “exact match” law.
Voters in Gwinnett County, a diverse swing district north of Atlanta where Abrams canvassers had focused their turnout efforts, were forced to wait hours in line because the voting machines lacked power cords and ran out of batteries.
Abrams’ campaign held a press conference Friday with Georgia voters who said they were blocked from the polls for various reasons. One person said she never received the absentee ballot she requested, despite calling the voter hotline for help. Another said she was turned away from her polling place, despite being registered to vote there, because they wouldn’t accept her valid out-of-state ID. Others said they were forced to go to second and sometimes third polling places because theirs were experiencing technical difficulties.
The Abrams campaign also charges that tens of thousands of outstanding ballots have not been counted ― particularly provisional and absentee ballots. Abrams staffers have been spending “every hour of every day” on the phone with voters, coaching them through how they can make sure their votes have been counted, campaign manager Lauren Groh-Wargo said Friday. The campaign is also pursuing legal action to ensure all votes are counted.
“We are investigating multiple cases from students who believe they timely and properly submitted their absentee ballots but when they checked the Secretary of State’s website, it appears those ballots have not yet been accepted,” the campaign said in a press release Thursday night.
Kemp, meanwhile, has vehemently denied any allegations of voter suppression. His campaign spokesman Ryan Mahoney told the AP that because of the former secretary of state, “it has never been easier to vote in our state.” Kemp has already begun the transition process with outgoing Gov. Nathan Deal (R).
Abrams’ campaign told HuffPost that no effort to shame or intimidate her into conceding is going to work.
“Stacey Abrams has never given up on Georgians, and that won’t change today,” said Groh-Wargo. “Calls for her to concede and efforts to proclaim former Secretary of State Brian Kemp the victor, despite the tens of thousands of outstanding ballots, are a disservice to the people of Georgia and their absolute right to make their voice heard in our democratic process.”
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