Kemp Campaign Declares 'Election Is Over' After Split Decision From Judge on Discounted Ballots

Brian Kemp / Getty Images
November 15, 2018

Republican Brian Kemp has declared victory in the Georgia gubernatorial race and resigned as secretary of state to head to the governor's mansion, but he's still waiting on Democrat Stacey Abrams to concede a race his campaign says she cannot win.

A split decision by a federal judge Wednesday night prompted Kemp communications director Ryan Mahoney to say the Republican had an "insurmountable lead" and "the election is over." Abrams needs to net nearly 18,000 votes in order to push Kemp below the 50-percent threshold and force a runoff, or net 15,400 votes to force a recount, and the Kemp team says the numbers aren't there for her.

The race has not been officially called. The race could be certified as early as Friday, the Washington Post reports. While Kemp's advantage has shrunk a little each day since Election Day, he still leads by nearly 55,000 votes (50.23 percent of the vote).

"Tonight, ‏Judge Jones rejected efforts by Stacey Abrams and her radical allies to undermine the democratic process and rule of law in Georgia," Mahoney said. "He denied her requests to create new voters and slammed the door on attempts to count illegal votes.

"This ruling solidifies Brian Kemp’s insurmountable lead. The election is over and Kemp is the Governor-elect. It's time for Abrams to concede and join our efforts to keep Georgia moving in the right direction."

U.S. District Judge Steve Jones ruled in favor of Abrams by deciding Georgia could not certify election results without confirming each county’s vote tally includes absentee ballots on which there was an error regarding the voter’s date of birth, USA Today reported.

However, he did not require counties to count absentee ballots with incorrect addresses or provisional ballots cast by those voting in the wrong county.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Jones’ order makes such a count mandatory for all 159 counties in Georgia:

Secretary of State Robyn Crittenden is required to adjust vote totals if there are any counties that need to go back and re-evaluate absentee ballots.

The state has a Tuesday deadline to finalize election results, but Jones’ ruling said that cannot happen as long as there are absentee ballots that need to be counted.

"The Secretary of State is ENJOINED from certifying the State Election results until she has confirmed that each county’s returns include the counts for absentee ballots where the birth date was omitted or incorrect," he wrote.

The Abrams campaign, which along with progressive groups has filed multiple lawsuits since Election Day seeking delays in the certification deadline and the counting of rejected ballots, called the ruling a "major victory" and referred to Kemp as the "nation's foremost architect of voter suppression."

Voters are required to vote in their assigned precincts, per Georgia law. If they show up at the wrong precinct, they may cast a provisional ballot so long as they are a registered voter, are registered to vote in that county, and have not previously voted. The AJC reported metro Atlanta counties rejected hundreds of ballots because those casting the votes were not in their registered county.

As the race drags on nine days past Election Day as of Thursday, national Democrats are complaining Abrams is being robbed. Sens. Cory Booker (D., N.J.) and Sherrod Brown (D., Ohio), both potential 2020 White House contenders, said Republicans are stealing the race from Abrams, without offering evidence.