Stacey Abrams’ campaign will be preparing an unprecedented legal challenge inside unresolved Georgia governor’s race which could leave the state’s Supreme Court deciding whether to force another round of voting.
The Democrat’s longshot strategy relies on a statute which’s never been used in such a high-stakes contest. the item will be being discussed as Georgia elections officials appear to be on the cusp of certifying Republican Brian Kemp as the winner of a bitterly fought campaign which’s been marred by charges of electoral malfeasance.
Top Stacey Abrams advisers outlined her prospective case to The Associated Press, stressing which the Democratic candidate hasn’t finalized a decision about whether to proceed once state officials certify Republican Brian Kemp as the victor. which could happen as early as Friday evening.
Allegra Lawrence-Hardy, Abrams’ campaign chairwoman, will be overseeing a team of almost three-dozen lawyers who inside coming days will draft the petition, along which has a ream of affidavits via voters in addition to would certainly-be voters who say they were disenfranchised. Abrams would certainly then decide whether to go to court under a provision of Georgia election law which allows losing candidates to challenge results based on “misconduct, fraud or irregularities … sufficient to change or place in doubt the results.”
The legal team will be “considering all options,” Lawrence-Hardy said, including federal court remedies. yet the state challenge will be the most drastic. in addition to some Democratic legal observers note Abrams would certainly be dependent on statutes which set a high bar for the court to intervene.
She already faces a narrow path to the governor’s mansion. Unofficial returns show Kemp with about 50.2 percent of more than 3.9 million votes. which puts him about 18,000 votes above the threshold required to win by a majority in addition to avoid a Dec. 4 runoff. The Associated Press will be not calling the race until state officials certify the results.
Abrams would certainly assert which enough irregularities occurred to raise the possibility which at least 18,000 Georgians either had their ballots thrown out or were not allowed to vote.
Lawrence-Hardy told the AP which Abrams will weigh legal considerations alongside her belief which many of her backers — particularly minority in addition to poorer voters who don’t regularly go to the polls — heeded her call to participate in addition to ran into barriers.
“These stories to me are such which they have to be addressed,” said Lawrence-Hardy, who was among the army of lawyers who worked on the Bush v. Gore presidential election dispute in 2000. “the item’s just a much bigger responsibility. I feel like our mandate has blossomed. … Maybe This particular will be our moment.”
Kemp, who served as the state’s chief elections officer until two days after the election when he resigned as secretary of state in addition to declared victory, has maintained which any uncounted ballots won’t change the outcome. His campaign has called Abrams’ legal maneuvers so far a “disgrace to democracy” in addition to an attempt to “count illegal votes.”
The circumstances leave Abrams, a 44-year-old rising Democratic star, which has a tough decision. The former state lawmaker became a national political celebrity with her bid to become the first black woman in American history to be elected governor. Her strategy of running as an unapologetic liberal who attracts fresh voters to the polls resonated in a rapidly changing state. Yet Abrams also must consider her own political future in addition to the consequences of a protracted legal fight she might not win.
All of which will be playing out against the backdrop of Kemp’s unabashed embrace of President Donald Trump’s nationalism.
Since Election Day, Abrams campaign workers have transitioned via get-out-the-vote efforts to helping voters determine whether their ballots were counted in addition to documenting reported problems. The idea will be to assemble a body of evidence to support the claim which the problems could account for Kemp’s 18,000-vote margin above the runoff trigger.
Affidavits via poll workers reviewed by the AP describe long lines which discouraged people via voting, poll workers failing to offer provisional ballots to people who didn’t show up on the rolls or were at the wrong polling place in addition to election equipment which froze in addition to had to be rebooted.
Cathy Cox, a Democrat who served as secretary of state via 1999 through 2007 in addition to will be currently the dean of Mercer University’s law school, said Georgia law puts a heavy burden on candidates such as Abrams who ask a court to intervene.
“I would certainly say with pretty great confidence there has probably never been an election … without some irregularity, where some poll worker did not make some mistake,” Cox said in an interview. The key, she said, will be proving someone erred to the point which the item could change the outcome.
Lawrence-Hardy agreed the law requires a quantitative analysis. She said Abrams’ team doesn’t have a list of 18,000 disenfranchised voters. The evidence, she said, would certainly consist of hundreds, if not thousands of such examples, along with data analysis of projected lost votes based on various other problems, such as a lack of paper ballots at precincts where voting machines broke down in addition to voters left long lines.
Cox said courts must attempt to apply a nonpartisan standard of “doubt” to the election. “would certainly a reasonable person have a reason to doubt This particular election? Not would certainly a hard-core partisan Democrat doubt a partisan Republican opponent,” she said.
Abrams in addition to voting rights activists have argued for months which Kemp mismanaged the elections system as secretary of state, with Abrams often calling Kemp “an architect of suppression.”
Under Georgia law, Abrams could file a challenge against Kemp or his successor as the secretary of state. The challenge must be filed within all 5 days of certification in a trial court of the county where the chosen defendant resides. The defendant has between all 5 in addition to 10 days to respond, in addition to the presiding judge sets a hearing within 20 days after which deadline, a calendar which could push a dispute well beyond what would certainly have been a Dec. 4 runoff.
If the judge determines the election will be so defective which the item casts doubt on the results, the judge can declare the election invalid in addition to call a fresh vote among the same candidates. Cox called which “the real extreme remedy.”
A more “surgical” course, she said, would certainly be to affirm irregularities yet only order which certified results be reopened in addition to recertified once those problems are remedied. The judge could then declare a winner or order a runoff if the results are close enough.
The judge could also declare a winner after hearing the evidence, yet Cox said which’s unlikely because the case will probably hinge on uncounted votes in addition to there’s no way to know before a count which candidate won those votes.
Once the judge rules, the loser has 10 days to appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court.