While much of the nation’s attention has been focused on the post-election shenanigans in south Florida that resulted in a recount for the U.S. Senate seat and governorship, the governor’s race in Georgia also remains uncalled at this time as Democrat-led legal fights have delayed the certification of the vote totals in the hope of similarly triggering a recount or runoff election.
Those efforts to delay the inevitable declaration of victory for Republican candidate Brian Kemp may have finally run their course, though, and even as Democrat candidate Stacey Abrams camp is calling a federal judge’s ruling on Wednesday a “major victory” for Democrats, the reality is the ruling was a split decision that ultimately favored Kemp and should result in a swift conclusion to the legal battles.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that U.S District Judge Steve Jones issued a ruling on three separate but related issues Abrams had raised, ruling in favor of Abrams on one issue while ruling in favor of Kemp on the other two.
The favorable ruling for Abrams was in regard to a request that absentee ballots with a missing or incorrect birth date still be counted if all other information for the registered voter checked out, which the judge agreed with and ordered the state to accept prior to finalizing the vote results.
However, that “major victory” was actually something of a moot point, as another judge had already ordered as much with respect to Gwinnet County, the Secretary of State’s Office had already agreed to accept such ballots and four other major counties — Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton and Henry — had already counted and reported such ballots.
Meanwhile, the judge ruled against two other requests from Abrams, namely a request that absentee ballots with incorrect residence addresses be counted as well as a request that provisional ballots cast in a county separate from the one a voter was registered in be counted.
Under existing state law, voters who go to the wrong precinct on Election Day are allowed to cast provisional ballots that will be counted, provided they are still inside of the county in which they are registered and haven’t already voted elsewhere. The Abrams campaign had been hopeful that hundreds, potentially thousands, of rejected provisional ballots cast in separate counties from where the voters were registered would be counted, but that effort failed.
Jones wrote, “Plaintiffs have shown that they are entitled to preliminary injunctive relief as to the absentee ballot (date of birth) issue. Plaintiffs have not shown that they are entitled to preliminary injunctive relief as to the absentee ballot (residence) issue and provisional ballot issues.”
Kemp’s campaign issued a brief statement following the judge’s ruling which noted that it was essentially now mathematically impossible for Abrams to gain enough additional votes to compel a runoff election.
— Greg Bluestein (@bluestein) November 15, 2018
Ryan Mahoney, communications director for the Kemp campaign, said, “Tonight, Judge Jones rejected efforts by Stacey Abrams and her radical allies to undermine the democratic process and rule of law in Georgia.”
“He denied her requests to create new voters and slammed the door on attempts to count illegal votes,” he continued. “The judge’s ruling puts the people of Georgia and their voice ahead of Abrams and her political ambitions.”
“This ruling solidifies Brian Kemp’s insurmountable lead. The election is over and Brian Kemp is the Governor-elect. It’s time for Abrams to concede and join our efforts to keep Georgia moving in the right direction,” Mahoney added.
The deadline for all 159 counties in the state to finalize their vote totals is Tuesday, but that could be delayed until after all absentee ballots with incorrect birth dates are counted and already-submitted vote totals are adjusted, if necessary.
The Abrams campaign nevertheless described the ruling as a “victory” and vowed to continue their fight, but the reality is that Abrams remains roughly 18,000 votes below the threshold required to trigger a runoff election, a margin that is now virtually impossible for her to close. In total, Abrams trails Kemp by roughly 60,000 votes.
The Kemp campaign is absolutely correct to point out that, for all intents and purposes, the governor’s race is over, Abrams has all but exhausted every effort to scrounge up more votes in her favor and has virtually no chance to even garner enough additional votes to trigger a runoff, much less be declared the victor in the race. Abrams should gracefully concede that this race is now finished.
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