Stacey Abrams will not concede in Georgia’s gubernatorial race. Instead, her campaign is suing one Georgia county over absentee ballots, with plans to pursue litigation in “in several other places,” according to a lawyer on the campaign’s litigation team; the hope is that the full count will push Abrams into a runoff election with opponent Brian Kemp in December.
“We are in this race until we believe that every vote is counted,” Allegra Lawrence-Hardy, an attorney on the campaign’s legal counsel, told reporters during a Thursday afternoon press conference.
The Georgia governor’s race remains a toss-up: Kemp declared himself the victor after netting 50.3 percent of the vote—a margin of 63,000 votes, per CNN. However, Abrams has refused to concede, arguing that not all the votes have been counted. “I’m here tonight to tell you votes remain to be counted. There’s voices that are waiting to be heard,” she told reporters early Wednesday morning.
Abrams, a Democrat running on a progressive platform, was poised to become the first black woman governor in the country. Her bid attracted national attention, including major star power from Oprah, who actively canvassed on her behalf. Meanwhile, Kemp has overseen one of the largest voter suppression efforts in the country, and continued to oversee voter rolls as Secretary of State even as he campaigned against Abrams. On Election Day, voters across Georgia reported enduring hours-long wait times because of election machine malfunctions and shortages. Four days before Election Day, a federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against Georgia’s limiting “exact match” voter registration law—originally designed by Kemp–saying that it raised “grave concerns for the Court about the differential treatment inflicted on a group of individuals who are predominantly minorities.” Kemp abruptly resigned as Secretary of State on Thursday morning. Under Georgia law, the two would face a run-off if neither candidate earns 50 percent of the vote. The Abrams campaign believes that the votes, when fully counted, may be enough to knock Kemp to below 50 percent and initiate a runoff election.
Abrams’s litigation team has sued Dougherty County, Georgia. “We have reports of ballots never showing up or being misdelivered, and there was an incredible backlog,” attorney Kurt Kastorf said during the press conference, adding that in some cases, voters weren’t afforded “the statutory amount of time they have to review and fill out their ballot.” In addition to filing a lawsuit in Dougherty County, the campaign has issued a litigation hold to officials to “ensure that every piece of evidence is preserved” and “available” as the campaign prepares “to mount our very significant legal challenge.”
The Abrams campaign says it has received hundreds of reports from voters citing a variety of voting issues, and is looking to hear from more voters as they continue. Lawyer Beth Tanis offered an example of one university student who mailed her absentee ballot by the deadline, but, upon checking its status online, found it had not been accepted. In another instance, she said that voters in Chatham County “were told they could not cast provisional ballots because there were no more documents.”
Additionally, the campaign alleges that Brian Kemp’s office has misled the public, or failed to share, the full counts or the status of outstanding votes. “They need to release all the data, all the numbers, and they need to count every single vote. But you know what? They probably can’t. Because I don’t know that they know where all those votes are,” Lauren Groh-Wargo, Abrams’s campaign manager, said. (The Kemp campaign did not immediately respond to Jezebel’s request for comment. We will update if they do.)
“We put this at the feet of Brian Kemp. This is on him,” Groh-Wargo said. The office has “not done its job to provide basic guidance.”
“He has fallen down on the job and we put the blame on him,” she said. “Brian Kemp owns this.”