WASHINGTON — New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker said he believes the Georgia gubernatorial election is being “stolen” from Democrat Stacey Abrams. He spoke during an interview at Yahoo Finance’s All Markets Summit on Tuesday.
“There should be a federal investigation. The Justice Department should be investigating that election to make sure it was fair and the decisions that were made were not to politically advantage someone but to protect voters and the voting process,” Booker said.
Booker, who was not up for reelection this year but is a potential presidential candidate in 2020, noted that he was commenting “from a perspective where I have not been in the weeds,” but he said, based on what he’s seen, he is convinced that Abrams isn’t getting a fair shot.
“I think that Stacey Abrams’s election is being stolen from her, using what I think are insidious measures to disenfranchise certain groups of people,” said Booker.
A spokesperson for the Justice Department declined to comment about whether it would open an investigation into the Georgia results.
The results in the race between Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp, who was Georgia’s secretary of state during the campaign, have yet to be certified a week after voters went to the polls. Kemp declared victory and resigned as secretary of state last Thursday based on initial results that showed he received just over 50 percent of the vote. However, Abrams and her allies have filed lawsuits and raised questions about thousands of provisional ballots that were given to voters who were told that they did not show up in the registration rolls or that they lacked proper identification. Abrams’s camp says there were thousands more provisional ballots cast than were reported by Kemp’s office. As secretary of state, Kemp oversaw an election in which he was also a candidate.
Georgia law requires a runoff election if no candidate earns over 50 percent of the vote. The state also conducts recounts if the margin between candidates is less than 1 percent. As of now, Kemp’s lead is just 1.5 percent, and he is only three-tenths of a percent over the 50 percent threshold to avoid a runoff. There was a third-party candidate with a small share of the vote as well. Abrams has been gaining ground as provisional ballots have been counted.
Even before the messy finish to the Georgia governor’s race, Abrams and other Democrats accused Kemp of abusing his power as secretary of state to hurt Abrams’s chances. He purged over 300,000 people from Georgia’s voter rolls and launched an investigation into the Georgia Democratic Party in connection with an alleged hack into the state’s registration system two days before the election. Kemp’s office initially provided no evidence for the probe.
In his interview with Yahoo on Tuesday, Booker accused Kemp of using his office to “disenfranchise” people.
“The Trump Justice Department should conduct an investigation into what happened,” Booker said. “That’s not just appearance of impropriety. To me, it’s the appearance of voter fraud, voter disenfranchisement, voter suppression.”
Georgia isn’t the only state where last week’s elections are ending with legal battles. In Florida, the Senate race between Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson and Republican Gov. Rick Scott has gone to a recount. As of now, Scott is leading by just two-tenths of a percent, and local officials are conducting a machine recount. If the pair are separated by less than 0.25 percent at the conclusion of that tabulation, state law calls for a hand recount.
President Trump and other Republicans have made allegations of fraud against Democrats in the Florida Senate race. But Trump’s claims have not been supported by evidence; the state’s Department of Law Enforcement also has found no indications of fraud in the vote counting.
Booker told Yahoo that both the Florida and Georgia races have his “attention.” However, he contrasted the situation in Florida with the Georgia election. While Booker expressed doubt that the Georgia race is proceeding fairly, he said he believes Florida officials are engaged in a “reasonable” process.
“In Florida right now I hear a lot of allegations coming from the Republican candidate. But clearly, you have local officials right now who are pushing back and trying to do a reasonable recount,” Booker said, adding, “I’ve called in to some of the Democratic lawyers who are down there. And there’s a feeling that right now, the process is moving along as we would expect.”
Booker further expressed optimism that Nelson, who has been gaining ground as the recount proceeds, would “continue to close that gap” if there is a “fair” count.
“I just want a fair process. I want votes to be counted. People who participate in elections should have the confidence that their vote’s going be counted,” Booker said.
Booker appeared at Yahoo Finance’s All Markets Summit to discuss his proposal to reduce income inequality by providing “baby bonds” to all American children. You can view the full interview here. _____
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