Democrat Stacy Abrams is holding out hope that the ballots that remain to be counted in some counties will be enough to push the hotly-watched Georgia governors’ race into a runoff between her and Republican candidate Brian Kemp.
The razor-thin margin had Kemp ahead at 50.5 percent of the vote to Abrams’ 48.6 percent, with Libertarian Ted Metz scooping up 0.9 percent, according to the New York Times.
But Abrams refused to concede early Wednesday morning, saying there were thousands of ballots yet to be counted, particularly in some of the metro-Atlanta suburbs where Republican support has wavered after President Trump’s election, according to the Associated Press.
“Abrams’ campaign estimated early Wednesday morning that there are at least 97,000 ballots to be counted and she’d need a net gain of 24,379 votes to trigger a runoff,” the AP reported.
That gap narrowed as the day wore on, with several thousand ballots still up in the air by Wednesday afternoon, according to the Secretary of State website.
At her election headquarters in Atlanta Tuesday night, Abrams told supporters “Votes remain to be counted,” McClatchy previously reported. “There are voices that were waiting to be heard. 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.”
Kemp remained confident and told supporters they would need to wait for the final numbers to come in.
“There are votes left to count, but we have a very strong lead,” Kemp said in Athens, Ga., according to the AP. “And folks, make no mistake, the math is on our side to win this election.”
What is a runoff?
In Georgia, if no candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, the top two finishers advance to a runoff election, which would take place on December 4.
The outcome would trigger another month of fierce campaigning as Kemp and Abrams fight to get voters to come to yet-another election. Political operatives expected a rush of money to flow rapidly into Georgia from outside groups and an explosion of campaign ads during that month, McClatchy previously reported.
Voters would need to head back to the polls in December to choose between the candidates one more time.
Even though Kemp is ahead, Abrams believes there are enough uncounted votes that the numbers could change significantly and bring both her and Kemp below 50 percent. Voters would then get a “do-over,” Abrams said, according to NBC.
When will we know if there’s a winner or a runoff?
Mail-in ballots from seven counties had not tallied all their votes by early Wednesday morning, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Once those ballots are counted, the race will officially be called, with either an outright winner or a runoff.
Later in the day, the vote count narrowed, with Abrams hoping to narrow an approximately 15,000 vote gap needed to force a runoff, the AJC reported.
Abrams has vowed to stay in the race until “every vote is counted,” according to CBS News, but the shape of the race, and her chances, will become more clear as vote counts trickles in Wednesday.
“We have an incredibly experienced Atlanta-based team, and they know the Georgia Code and they know these counties,” said Lauren Groh-Wargo, Stacey Abrams’ campaign manager, according to the AJC. “So, we are looking at all options.”