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Democrats and Republicans nationwide had their eyes trained on Georgia to see whether the emerging battleground state would elect the first black woman governor in American history or double down on the Deep South’s GOP tendencies with an acolyte of President Donald Trump’s.
But they’ll have to wait a little longer.
Malfunctioning voting machines, missing power cords and hours-long lines at the polls are being scrutinized by candidates and election officials in Georgia, where the governor’s race is undecided as votes are still being tallied.
Democrat Stacey Abrams is vying to become the nation’s first female black governor, but trails Republican Brian Kemp, who is Georgia’s Secretary of State and chief elections official.
With more than 3.8 million votes counted, Kemp stood at 50.8 percent, enough for an outright victory under a quirky Georgia law requiring a majority to win a general election without a runoff. But Abrams and Kemp agree there are absentee, mail-in and provisional ballots left to be counted.
The Abrams campaign estimated early Wednesday at least 97,000 early votes and mail-in ballots from key counties had not been tallied, based on its tracking. Abrams’ campaign estimates she’d need a net gain of almost 25,000 votes to trigger a runoff, which would be held Dec. 4.
Some of the obstacles to voting happened in diverse cities in metropolitan Atlanta which typically lean Democratic. And some of the longest lines were at polling places around historically black colleges in Atlanta.
Multiple lawsuits have been filed in the contentious race.
Voting rights groups say Kemp has sought to suppress the minority vote in Georgia, but he has fiercely denied such accusations.
With most of the rest of nation finishing its midterm campaigns, a white-hot spotlight is on a race that already has drawn massive investments of time, money and star power — from President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama to media icon Oprah Winfrey — with Abrams trying to make history as the first black woman to lead a U.S. state and Kemp trying to keep GOP-run Georgia from sliding into presidential battleground status ahead of 2020.
Many celebrities — from Lady Gaga and Ava DuVernay to Debra Messing — urged voters not to leave polling stations despite the wait, spurring the #StayInLine hashtag to trend on Twitter. Hillary Clinton wrote, “For voters in Georgia and elsewhere who are waiting in long lines to vote: You have the right to vote as long as you’re in line when the polls close. Please stay in line, encourage those around you to do the same, and help bring this home for @StaceyAbrams. #StayInLine”.
Trump has already claimed Georgia as a GOP victory, making the comment during his presidential press briefing Wednesday. “I heard it was very efficient in Georgia, but you’d have to ask the state governments,” the president said.
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