Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams vowed on Wednesday to fight on, demanding that all provisional and mail-in ballots in Georgia’s Democratic strongholds be counted before the race is called.
Republican Brian Kemp, meanwhile, declared victory during a press conference Thursday and announced he’d be resigning from his position as secretary of state.
“We know our opponent has had the secretary of state’s office declare he is the winner,” Abrams’ campaign said on a press call Wednesday night. “We are here to say we don’t accept that.”
Abrams currently trails Kemp by just 62,712 votes, according to the Associated Press. Kemp holds just 50.3 percent of the vote. Under Georgia’s election law, if his total drops below 50 percent, the race will automatically proceed to a run-off.
The Abrams campaign pointed to roughly 22,000 provisional ballots and 3,000 mail ballots they claim still haven’t been counted, most of which were cast in Democratic strongholds across Georgia. Just 23,800 votes would push the race into automatic recount territory, it said.
The campaign also directed reporters to potentially thousands of black students in Atlanta who were forced to cast provisional ballots — some without explanation. They also said that some voters in Gwinnett County, a majority-minority area outside Atlanta, had to wait more than four hours to cast ballots because of broken electronic voting machines.
The Abrams campaign blamed Kemp for those issues.
“Voters waited in line for four hours because of machines that broke and he refused to fix,” the campaign said.
“There has been no data offered… no detail whatsoever” about the outstanding ballots, the campaign added on the call. “We remain steadfast in our commitment to get every vote counted and get as transparent a process possible, considering the circumstances we find ourselves in.”
Meanwhile, Kemp said Thursday he’d be resigning from his position as secretary of state until he assumes the governor’s mansion.
“We won the race,” Kemp told reporters. “It’s very clear now. We are moving forward with the transition.”
The announcement came just as a federal court in Atlanta heard a hearing in a last-minute lawsuit seeking a temporary restraining order that would prevent Kemp from “supervising the tabulation of votes and certification for the 2018 general election in Georgia, in which he is the Republican candidate for governor.”
“Those dual roles violate the basic rule of fairness that ‘no man can be a judge in his own case,'” the motion for a temporary restraining order said.
LaTosha Brown, co-founder of Black Voters Matter and a lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, told ThinkProgress that the litigation would be dismissed as soon as Kemp’s resignation became effective.
“I’m relieved that he stepped down, but I’m annoyed by the fact that we had to go through this process to do this in the first place,” Brown said. “If he had any integrity, he would have resigned from the get-go and would have recused himself like people had asked him to.”
She said Kemp likely resigned at this point because he knew “some damaging information” could come out in the course of the lawsuit. She also challenged Kemp’s declaration that he won the election.
“I know he’s claimed he’s governor, but he can’t,” she said. “How can you claim you’re governor when the provisional ballots haven’t been counted and the results aren’t certified?”
Under Georgia law, counties have until Monday to certify their vote counts. Monday is a federal holiday, and the Abrams campaign said the secretary of state’s office hasn’t provided guidance on whether that deadline still holds.