Federal lawsuit seeks to delay statewide vote certification in Georgia

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The race for Georgia Governor is not yet decided — or is it?

Brian Kemp indicated last week he was the winner because, despite some uncounted votes, there were not enough to prompt a runoff with Stacey Abrams or even a recount.

Monday, the Kemp campaign said that a concession from Democrat Abrams is “long overdue.” The campaign offering information it said is available publicly to all voters which indicates that a little more than 13,000 ballots remain to be counted.

The Kemp folks say it’s statistically impossible at this point for Abrams to get enough votes to change the outcome and that liberal lawyers working on behalf of Stacey are “trying to steal the election.”

Coincidentally, campaign staff for Abrams has said the same thing about Kemp. They point to what they call Kemp’s voter suppression tactics for years when he served as Georgia’s Secretary of State.

Sunday, the Democratic party of Georgia filed a federal lawsuit seeking a delay in statewide certification of the vote until Wednesday.  The Abrams team claims there are still enough votes to propel their candidate into the runoff they seek. 

Savannah Political Science Professor Bruce Mallard says he understands why the federal lawsuit was filed. He says “projected” winners are the norm and the loser normally concedes but that there is no legal requirement for a candidate to give in if they think the vote count may not be complete. 

“I think as close as it is she’s got a right to count the votes,” Mallard said of Abrams.

But Mallard also says forcing a recount or runoff appears to be a long shot as the days pass.

“She’s got to narrow that margin some,” said Mallard. “I think it’s going to take at least 19,000 votes to get a recount and again that’s a roll of the dice either way I think.” 

Monday, Kemp led by 50.26 percent.  A winner must receive 50 percent of the vote plus one vote.

Mallard said the close numbers may be “giving her hope because all he’s got to lose is about a quarter of a percent.” 

Still, Mallard said that often turns out to be a lot harder than observers might think

“She’s got to narrow that margin, I think it might take 19,000 votes to get a recount and that’s a roll of the dice,” he said.

Mallard says the Abrams team can’t necessarily rely on getting each and every vote that they say has not been counted.  Again, the Kemp team says there are 13,000 remaining and that “even if Abrams got all of them it wouldn’t be enough.”

Mallard says perhaps so in the end but says the political process often plays out with lawsuits in a close election.

He also said there while the media projects winners and those projected as losers often concede, that there is no legal requirement to concede.

“I don’t think she’s under an obligation to do that (concede),” said Mallard. “Candidates like for you to concede whether you should or not because then they start acting like the incumbent.”

In the end, however, Mallard says the key may certainly be statewide certification of the vote.

He says Abrams and Democrats can keep saying there is still time on the clock and that the game is not over, but he says when votes are certified as all being counted, it’s a signal the players are walking off the field. 

“Most people see that as the official score from the official scorekeeper. I do think it’s very hard to keep this going after the certification and to not concede after the certification, said Mallard.

“I think there will probably be allegations of misconduct (on Kemp’s part) and criticism of inefficiencies in the voting process but I I don’t know that there’s any legal hope (for a runoff) beyond the certification,” he added.

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