November 8, 2018; CNBC and NBC News
“Make no mistake: This race isn’t over.”
These are the words of Georgia’s gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams more than a day after the November 6th election. These are also the words of voters who have grown tired of the tactics used to suppress their vote. A group of Georgia voters sued Brian Kemp, Georgia’s secretary of state and the Republican gubernatorial candidate, on Election Night, blocking Kemp from taking part in activities relating to the elections.
“Defendant’s clear bias in favor of his own candidacy demonstrates the truth of the axiom that no man may be the judge in his own case,” says the lawsuit filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of Georgia. “This Court should not permit Defendant Kemp to resolve the outcome of the elections in which he is a candidate under those circumstances.”
Kemp’s spokesperson, Candice Broce, stated that the “twelfth-hour stunt will not distract [them] from fulfilling [their] responsibilities.” She also went on to say that it is “the county officials, not the secretary of state’s office, tally votes and recount results.”
Even if that it is so, as the lawyer for the five voters, Laurence Schwartzol, pointed out, to have Secretary Kemp run the rules of this election, where Kemp has misused his office in hyper-partisan ways, is “fundamental unfairness.”
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This lawsuit comes after a string of events during this gubernatorial race: Forty Black senior citizens were told to get off a bus that was taking them to a poll station to cast early votes; Kemp invoked the “exact-match” law to suspend 53,000 voter-registration applications for infractions as minor as a missing hyphen from a surname; voting machines across Georgia manifested such irregularities as vote-switching and touch screen malfunctions; and, two days before the November 6th election, an investigation into a falsely alleged voter registration hack. It continued into Election Day, where long lines and voting machine issues were prevalent.
Since the beginning of the race, Abrams has asked that Kemp step down from the position of secretary of state during election season. In fact, former President Jimmy Carter called on Kemp to resign, stating, “In order to foster voter confidence in the upcoming election, which will be especially important if the race ends up very close, I urge you to step aside and hand over to a neutral authority the responsibility of overseeing the governor’s election.”
Now, three days after the election, Brian Kemp has resigned as Georgia’s secretary of state—and has declared himself, with backing from the current governor, Nathan Deal, the governor-elect. Unfortunately, his resignation does not mean what he hopes it to mean. Because the state has yet to certify the final vote count, his declaration is meaningless. It also means that Kemp cannot certify the final count himself.
As Brian Kemp is declaring victory and putting together his transition team, Stacey Abrams is waiting until the final count. Abrams and her campaign want to see every vote counted, stating that thousands of more votes need to be counted in one metro Atlanta county (Cobb County), including votes from overseas and military personnel. They have secured a legal team to check the election outcomes.
According to the latest election results, Brian Kemp has secured 50 percent of votes and Abrams 49 percent, with only about 63,000 votes separating them. If Kemp secures less than a majority of the votes, the race will go to a runoff.—Diandria Barber