Georgia ordered to protect provisional ballots

Georgia ordered to protect provisional ballots
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A federal judge ordered state election officials in Georgia to preserve and count provisional ballots filed in the state's midterm elections for the state's outstanding gubernatorial contest.

The Associated Press reports that U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg ruled late Monday that Georgia's secretary of state office must take steps to preserve provisional ballots and begin counting them, as well as set up a website or other official system to notify voters whether their ballots were or were not accepted. Totenberg was nominated by President Obama. 

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The judge also ruled that Georgia election officials cannot certify the election until Friday at 5 p.m., two days after the AP reports Georgia officials planned to call the race.

Republican nominee Brian Kemp leads Democrat Stacey Abrams in unofficial vote tallies, but Abrams's campaign has remained adamant that enough uncounted votes remain in her favor to force Kemp into a Dec. 4 runoff election.

“I am fighting to make sure our democracy works for and represents everyone who has ever put their faith in it. I am fighting for every Georgian who cast a ballot with the promise that their vote would count,” Abrams said in a statement Monday.

Kemp's campaign has urged Abrams to concede, and told the AP her effort to stay in the race while provisional ballots are counted is a "disgrace to democracy."

“Clearly, Stacey Abrams isn’t ready for her 15 minutes of fame to end,” a spokesman for the Kemp campaign said.

The Georgia gubernatorial race was burdened for months with accusations of voter suppression aimed at Kemp, also the state's secretary of state and elections chief, and more than one hundred thousand voters were removed from the state's voter rolls over lack of activity in past elections.