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Georgia Governor Still Undecided


In this country, the election for governor in Georgia comes down to math. There is little doubt that Republican Brian Kemp received the most votes, but it's close. And if Democrat Stacey Abrams receives enough votes to keep Kemp below 50 percent of the total, there will be a runoff, under the law. She's hoping uncounted ballots could alter the math in a way that gives her a chance to be the nation's first African-American female governor. The race has led to lawsuits and accusations that are dividing the state, as Johnny Kauffman reports from member station WABE.


MARY HOOKS: Count every vote.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting) Count every vote.

HOOKS: Count every vote.

UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting) Count every vote.

JOHNNY KAUFFMAN, BYLINE: This week, more than 100 protesters gathered inside the Georgia State Capitol, upset that Republican Brian Kemp declared himself governor-elect the day after the midterms, the same time he resigned from his old job, secretary of state overseeing Georgia's elections. But the protesters say he should have done it earlier.


HOOKS: This is one example of the way in which this country continues to be the greatest failure at democracy.


KAUFFMAN: That's Mary Hooks. She's a local activist. Then about half an hour into the protest, police descend.


UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTERS: (Chanting) Leave her alone. Leave her alone. Leave her alone.

KAUFFMAN: They arrested Hooks and 14 others, including a Democratic state senator. The calls of the protesters echoed the message from the Stacey Abrams campaign. They've held daily press conferences pushing for more votes to be counted.


LAUREN GROH-WARGO: Good afternoon. Thank you all for being here today. I'm Lauren Groh-Wargo, Stacey Abrams' campaign manager.

KAUFFMAN: On Tuesday, Groh-Wargo spoke to a row of reporters and TV cameras outside the federal courthouse in Atlanta. Democrats and civil rights groups have filed lawsuits, and emergency orders have been issued. Most concern absentee and provisional ballots. Groh-Wargo says if Brian Kemp feels confident he's the winner, he should also be calling for every vote to be counted.


GROH-WARGO: I think this is despicable, and I think Georgians of all partisan backgrounds need to join us in the call to count every vote so we can feel as though there's been some closure to this election.

KAUFFMAN: Groh-Wargo has called Kemp the secretary of suppression for making it harder to vote. Republicans call all of this theatrics and say Kemp is the clear winner, while Abrams undermines democracy by not conceding. David Ralston is the longtime Republican leader of the Georgia House.

DAVID RALSTON: Frankly, it's time for the rhetoric to be ratcheted down and for Georgia to move forward. And, you know, I've lost elections and it's tough to accept, but sometimes we have to.

KAUFFMAN: There's little chance the Georgia governors' race will go to a runoff. Abrams would need to win thousands more votes. But whatever the result of the election, Republicans and Democrats look poised to question it, and Georgia will be dealing with the consequences of that for at least the next four years. For NPR News, I'm Johnny Kauffman in Atlanta. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Johnny joined WABE in March, 2015. Before joining the station, he was a producer at Georgia Public Broadcasting, and NPR in Washington D.C.