LAWRENCEVILLE, GA -- Georgia's nationally watched governor's race moved a major step closer to a conclusion Thursday night, when Gwinnett County finally certified its election results. Gwinnett is believed to be the final county to certify the results of last week's historic Georgia midterm elections, in which Republican Brian Kemp has already declared a victory over Stacey Abrams in the governor's race.
According to the Secretary of State, Kemp holds a 54,966 vote lead over Abrams, who has mounted several legal challenges since the Nov. 6 election to have as many contested absentee and provisional votes counted as possible. Kemp has 50.23 percent of the vote, to Abrams' 48.83 percent. Libertarian Ted Metz has 0.95 percent.
Newly appointed Secretary of State Robyn Crittenden told county election officials earlier this week to count absentee ballots as long as the voter's identity can be verified. Crittenden, who is the first African-American woman to ever serve in a statewide office, issued the guidelines Monday afternoon. Crittenden's office stressed that law and rules regarding absentee ballot verification and provisional ballots haven't changed, but rather "the purpose of the guidance is to ensure that county election officials are receiving accurate information as they approach their certification deadline."
Crittenden was appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal to fill out the rest of Kemp's term as secretary of state.
On Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Steve Jones ruled in favor of Abrams' request that absentee ballots with incorrect voter's birthdates must be counted. However, Jones rejected an Abrams campaign request to require counties to accept absentee ballots with incorrect voters' addresses or provisional ballots cast by voters who attempted to vote in a different county than where they are registered.
Abrams is hoping to force a runoff with Kemp, who has already claimed victory in the race and is preparing his administration. There is already at least one runoff set for Dec. 4, that for secretary of state, between Democrat John Barrow and Republican Brad Raffensberger.
Patch file photo