BRANDEN CAMP/SPECIAL

What’s at issue as Georgia’s race for governor drags on

Republican Brian Kemp has declared victory and is moving ahead with plans to transition into the governor’s office, but no winner has been officially declared.

Democrat Stacey Abrams and her supporters say Georgia’s race for governor isn’t over until every vote is counted. They’re hoping that once provisional ballots are counted next week, they will bring Abrams’ total up and force Kemp into a runoff. Abrams would need to gain more than 25,000 votes to deny Kemp a majority and trigger a runoff election Dec. 4.

The election was Tuesday. What votes are still out and what issues have been raised about their status?

Absentee-by-mail ballots: Any registered voter in Georgia is eligible to request an absentee ballot, and more than 283,000 of the state’s voters did for this election. Nearly 219,000 of those absentee ballots have been returned and counted.

Mailed ballots were required to be received by county election offices by the end of Election Day, with the exception of military and overseas voters, whose ballots were counted as long as they were postmarked by Tuesday and received through Friday.

In one Georgia county, Dougherty County, a judge extended the deadline to receive all absentee ballots through Friday, in part because Hurricane Michael delayed government functions.

Early votes: People who visited a polling place during the early-voting period, which ended Nov. 2, cast a ballot on one of the state’s electronic voting machines. Some voters used provisional ballots if their registration information couldn’t be verified or electronic voting machines weren’t working correctly. In-person early votes cast on Georgia’s voting machines were counted on Election Day.

Provisional ballots: These are the ballots that have generated the most discussion.

Provisional ballots are paper ballots that are given to voters who couldn’t show photo ID, showed up at the wrong polling place or didn’t appear on the state’s list of registered voters.

There are several reasons why Georgians wouldn’t show up on the list of registered voters. In some cases, they really aren’t registered to vote or didn’t meet last month’s deadline to register. Or they could be among the 1.4 million names purged from Georgia’s list of registered voters since 2012 because they moved, died, were convicted of a felony or didn’t participate in elections for several years, among other reasons. An additional 47,000 registration applications were on hold because their information — possibly including their names — didn’t match government records. Sometimes, it was because they’re new U.S. citizens whose records hadn’t been updated. Most of those voters should have been allowed to vote using a standard ballot with identification, but if the discrepancy could not be resolved, some may have been forced to cast provisional ballots.

For provisional ballots to count, voters who cast them must return to their county’s election office within three days after the election with proper identification or other information to show they are entitled to vote.

Approved provisional votes are counted before each county’s board of elections certifies election results by the end of the day Tuesday.

The Abrams campaign and voting rights advocates have said many people were improperly required to use provisional ballots. Counties will have a better sense of how many valid provisional ballots will be counted after the deadline Friday evening.

In metro Atlanta, county elections officials reported at least 12,751 provisional and military and overseas absentee ballots were being verified and counted.

What happens next:

County certification: Each county board of elections will meet by Tuesday to certify its returns. Before votes are certified, election offices add up the votes of each type — in-person, absentee and provisional — for each race and verifies that the totals match the number of voters who participated in the election.

State certification:

Newly named Georgia Secretary of State Robyn Crittenden is scheduled to certify the statewide election Nov. 19. After receiving the certified vote counts from each county, the Secretary of State’s Office verifies the totals for each race.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

Related Stories

Staff writer Janel Davis contributed to this article.

X