Democrat Stacey Abrams is not conceding the race for Georgia governor until “every vote” is counted, her campaign said late Wednesday after Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp declared himself the victor in the tight race.
On Wednesday afternoon, Kemp’s campaign released a statement declaring Kemp the victor, saying he “will now begin his transition as governor-elect of Georgia” and claiming that it was “mathematically impossible” for Abrams to win or force a runoff.
Abrams’ campaign told reporters on a conference call later Wednesday that “we do not accept” Kemp’s declaration of victory, and the campaign demanded transparency from his office (as secretary of state, he oversees elections) on the thousands of votes not yet counted.
Abrams was trailing Kemp by less than 63,000 votes as of Wednesday night, according to The New York Times.
Kemp’s office had told Abrams’ team there were 25,000 outstanding votes ― 22,000 provisional ballots and 3,000 mail-in or absentee ballots. If 23,800 of those votes were to be in Abrams’ favor, it would force a recount, and 25,700 votes would force a runoff, her campaign said.
“This declaration was not a credible declaration ― full stop. Show the data, show the votes, get a fair process,” Abrams’ campaign manager, Lauren Groh-Wargo, said, noting Kemp hadn’t shared more data on the outstanding ballots with Abrams’ team or the wider public.
HuffPost reached out to Kemp’s campaign and did not immediately receive a response.
“We need every vote accounted for, understood and counted. No more, no less,” Groh-Wargo added.
The campaign also repeated its call for Kemp to step down as secretary of state overseeing his own election.” “If this is not an abuse of power and corrupt, I don’t know what is,” Groh-Wargo said of Kemp declaring himself the victor, noting he has “a conflict of interest.”
Abrams’ campaign has a legal team looking at “all options” to get transparency on the vote count, Groh-Wargo said.
The potentially historic race ― with Abrams vying to become the nation’s first black woman governor ― has been mired in issues of voter suppression.
Last month, an Associated Press report found that more than 53,000 voter applications, nearly 70 percent of which were from black people, were on hold for verification with Kemp’s office. The secretary of state had refused to step down from his oversight role.
Georgia “purged twice as many voters — 1.5 million — between the 2012 and 2016 elections as it did between 2008 and 2012,” according to the Brennan Center for Justice. Kemp took office in 2010.
In August, one majority-black Georgia county had to reject a plan to close nearly all of its polling places. And last month, a federal judge said she would block election officials from throwing out absentee ballots based on signature discrepancies after one county faced scrutiny for rejecting an unusually high number of mail-in ballots.
On Election Day, the state had to keep polling locations open late after multiple majority-black districts had technical difficulties with voting machines. Voters reported hours-long lines and other obstacles that some attributed to voter suppression efforts.
“Our mission is clear: to ensure that every vote is counted and that Georgians have the ability to have confidence in the election and its outcome,” Groh-Wargo said.
“This is bigger than our candidate and our campaign,” she added. “This is about democracy in Georgia.”