Georgia elections officials scrambled Thursday to count a cache of hundreds of ballots that were previously rejected as they raced to comply with the latest federal ruling in the too-close-to-call contest for governor. Democrat Stacey Abrams called the judge’s order a major victory to extend her quest to become the nation’s first black female governor, but Republican Brian Kemp said it would hardly dent his “insurmountable lead” in the race for Georgia’s top job. The latest tally showed Abrams is roughly 55,000 votes behind Kemp — and in need of more than 17,000 votes to force a Dec. 4 runoff. Georgia law requires a runoff if no candidate gets a majority of the vote, which is only a possibility because a third-party contender netted about 1 percent. In the tight race for the 7th Congressional District, Republican U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall appeared to defeat Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux after additional ballots were counted Thursday in Gwinnett County. Bourdeaux gained more than 100 votes but still trailed Woodall by about 400 votes.
A judge on Thursday denied Bourdeaux’s emergency motion that would have forced Gwinnett to tally absentee ballots that had previously been rejected because of address and signature issues.
In a separate ruling, U.S. District Judge Steve Jones issued an order late Wednesday that all counties should count absentee ballots missing birthdate information, a decision that could affect hundreds of ballots.
That court order forced election officials across Georgia to revisit absentee ballots that were rejected solely because of a missing or incorrect date of birth. Secretary of State Robyn Crittenden told counties they have to recertify election results by 5 p.m. Friday if their vote totals change.