Politics

Federal judge orders thousands more ballots to be counted in Georgia governor’s race

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 06: Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams poses for photographs with employees of Busy Bee Cafe on November 6, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. Abrams made a number of final campaign stops on Election Day. As voters go to the polls on Election Day, Abrams is in a tight race against Republican opponent Brian Kemp to become Georgia's next governor. (Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images)
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams poses for photographs with employees of Busy Bee Cafe on November 6, 2018, in Atlanta, Georgia.

Thanks to federal judges, just about every outstanding ballot will be counted in Georgia—at least tens of thousands more votes than would have been counted if now-former secretary of state Brian Kemp, Abrams’ opponent, had his way.

On Nov. 12, Judge Amy Totenberg of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia ordered the secretary of state’s office to create and promote “a secure and free-access hotline or website for provisional ballot voters to access to determine whether their provisional ballots were counted and if not, the reason why” and to ensure that all “159 county election superintendents” do the same.

Relatedly, the ruling imposed requirements to ensure provisional ballots are carefully reviewed. Finally, the court barred the secretary of state from certifying—or declaring final—the election results before close of business on November 16, a Friday.

The judge determined that “[t]his remedy is necessary and warranted” given the urgency of the situation, the evidence—see, e.g., Kemp’s shenanigans—and “the fundamental importance of the interest of the voters that cannot be remedied after final certification.”

A day later, on Nov. 13, Judge Leigh Martin May, also of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, ruled that Gwinnett County, the epicenter of a number of shady voter suppression happenings, can’t throw out absentee ballots over date of birth errors, like omitting the DOB or writing in the wrong year.

“This decision is not based on evaluating potential harm to any individual candidate,” wrote May, focusing, as Abrams has, on voters’ rights. “Instead, it is focused on the right of individuals to have their votes counted.”


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