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Early Wednesday morning, Georgia’s Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams refused to concede to Republican challenger Brian Kemp.
“Votes remain to be counted. There are voices that were waiting to be heard,” Abrams said before a crowd of supporters. “Across our state, folks are opening up the dreams of voters in absentee ballots and we believe our chance for a stronger Georgia is just within reach. But we cannot seize it until all voices are heard. And I promise you tonight we are going to make sure that every vote is counted – every single vote.”
This election has tested our faith. I’m not gonna name names, but some have worked hard to take our voices away, to scare us away, to distract us, but our vision is clear and we see the finish line…
If I wasn’t your first choice, or if you made no choice at all, you’re gonna have a chance to do a do-over. I need you to know that it is my mission to serve you, to serve Georgia, to make you proud, and for those who didn’t pick me the first time, to change your mind about me and what we can accomplish together.
You see, I learned a long time we don’t need to agree on everything, but I will always respect you, and I will do everything I can to keep you safe and help you live your best lives because that’s what leadership requires at this moment, and it is how we breathe life back into our republic when it seems to be shallow of breath.
As Abrams gave her speech, NBC News reported on screen that with 99% of precincts reporting, the gubernatorial hopeful was down by 115,362 votes, or approximately 3%.
According to The New York Times, with 100% of precincts reporting as of publication, Abrams still trails Kemp by 94,468 votes, or approximately 2.5%.
Georgia state law dictates that if no candidate receives a majority of votes, the top two candidates enter into a runoff election. According to NBC News, such a runoff would take place on December 4.
The narrow margin of Georgia’s gubernatorial election results brings attention to the multiple allegations of voter suppression that have been made throughout the race. Republican candidate Brian Kemp currently serves as Georgia’s Secretary of State, and some have criticized his defense of a voting law known as “exact match.”
The New York Times reports that under “exact match” law, new voter registration information is checked against “the Social Security Administration database or a database maintained by the state Department of Driver Services.” If the information isn’t an exact match, the registration is moved into a “pending” status.
According to The New York Times:
The exact-match law took center stage last month, when The Associated Press obtained documents from Mr. Kemp’s office in a public records request and found 53,000 voter registrations were stuck in this “pending” status for failing to meet the exact-match standards. Nearly 70 percent of the registrants were African-American, the news agency found.
Politifact notes that voters who are placed in “pending” limbo are “notified in the form of a letter from the county board of registrars about the need to provide additional documentation.” Two years and two months “from the date of the original application…the registration is rejected” if the “pending” individual fails to provide the requisite material to verify their identity.
However, “pending” voters can cast a ballot as long as they “produce proper photo identification at their polling place,” adds Politifact.
There have been other allegations made against the Secretary of State relating to voter suppression. Kemp issued a statement in response to anger over the “exact match” law, which reads in part:
Under my tenure as Secretary of State, Georgia has shattered records for voter registration and turn-out across all demographic groups. Now, Georgia has an online voter registration website and a dedicated website for voters to get on-demand, personalized election information. Neither existed before I took office. We have a wildly successful Student Ambassador Program for 1,500 young adults to learn how to register their peers to vote, engage in civics, and participate in the electoral process. Voter registration in this key demographic group – which represents our nation’s future leaders – has doubled since I announced this new program.
Kemp added: “Despite any claim to the contrary, it has never been easier to register to vote in Georgia and actively engage in the electoral process.”