Democrat Abrams files new suit in Georgia governor's race

This combination of May 20, 2018, photos shows Georgia gubernatorial candidates Stacey Abrams, left, and Brian Kemp in Atlanta. Democrats and Republicans nationwide will have to wait a bit longer to see if Georgia elects the first black woman governor in American history or doubles down on the Deep South’s GOP tendencies with an acolyte of President Donald Trump (AP Photos/John Amis, File)

ATLANTA — Republican Brian Kemp resigned Thursday as Georgia’s secretary of state, a day after his campaign said he had captured enough votes to become governor. His Democratic rival, Stacey Abrams, refused to concede and her campaign demanded that state officials “count every single vote.”

As the state’s top election official, Kemp oversaw the race, a marquee contest in the nation’s midterms. His resignation Thursday morning came as a hearing began for a lawsuit in which five voters asked that he be barred from exercising his duties in any future management of his own election tally.

Abrams’ campaign had repeatedly accused Kemp of improperly using his post as secretary of state and had been calling for him to step down for months, saying his continuation in the job was a conflict of interest. Kemp made clear that he wasn’t stepping down in response to that criticism, but to start on his transition to the governor’s office.

His resignation took effect just before noon Thursday. He said an interim secretary of state had been appointed to oversee the rest of the vote count.

The Associated Press has not called the election.

Shortly after Kemp’s announcement, Abrams’ campaign and its legal team held a news conference to announce that they would not give up the fight to have all ballots counted. They insisted enough votes remained uncounted to affect the outcome of the election.

“This is all public information, ladies and gentlemen, public information,” said campaign manager Lauren Groh-Wargo. “We demand that Secretary of State Kemp, his campaign ... they need to release all the data, all the numbers, and they need to count every single vote.”

The lawyers said they planned to file a lawsuit Thursday against officials in Dougherty County, where they said absentee ballots were delayed because of Hurricane Michael, which devastated parts of south Georgia.

They also said they ask the court to ensure those votes are counted, and to require that elections officials preserve all potential evidence about the vote count.

“How can anybody claim a victory when there are enough votes that have not been counted that could cause a runoff here?” Attorney John Chandler asked. “We will litigate until we have determined that every person’s vote has been counted.”

Previously, Abrams had pointed to ballots that had yet to be counted in metro Atlanta counties where she won a large share of the vote. Her campaign has said she must pick up about 15,000 votes to secure a runoff in December.

Kemp said Abrams is using “old math.” Without providing specifics, he said in a WSB Radio interview that the number “is actually more like 30,000 votes.”

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