By Violet Lim, CEO and Co-Founder at Lunch Actually Group. A version of this article originally appeared on Violet’s LinkedIn blog. Violet is a member of EO…
In one of several nail-biting political contests, the Georgia governor’s election results remain close, though Republican Brian Kemp retains both the lead and enough votes at present to avoid a runoff election with Democrat Stacey Abrams.
A Georgia run-off would occur on Dec. 4 if Kemp’s total, currently at 50.3%, dropped below 50% plus 1 vote. In absolute terms, he’s currently about 13,000 votes above the threshold.
Kemp is also ahead of Abrams about 60,000 votes at 1.97 million to 1.91 million votes or a gap of more than 1%, a threshold for a potential taxpayer-paid recount. A third-party candidate, Ted Met, received 0.9% of votes cost, or about 37,000 votes.
But dramatic reversals in close elections, especially involving governors, have happened before. Here are some scenarios.
Remaining Votes Break Heavily to Abrams and Additional Ballots Found or Added
Kemp’s campaign said that it’s now mathematically impossible for Abrams to receive enough votes for him to drop below the 50% plus 1 threshold. If 100% of remaining absentee ballots and provisional ballots were counted and were cast for Abrams, Kemp would still narrowly exceed 50%. (According to AP, Absentee ballots number about 2,000 remaining to be counted; provisional ballots, about 22,000, but not all will be found valid.)
However, it’s common for additional ballots to be uncovered before votes are certified–not just in elections where the secretary of state in charge of the election is also running for governor, as Kemp was.
Nonetheless, a run-off remains a long shot, but could occur if Abrams were to force a recount.
Abrams Demands a Recount
Georgia law allows a recount if there’s less than a 1% margin between candidates. A candidate has to apply to the secretary of state, Kemp in this case, to obtain a recount with that margin. However, the law requires a recount to be ordered and paid for by the state.
At present, the margin is too large, and would be even if all absentee and provisional ballots were counted and picked Abrams.
However, voting officials can choose to audit or recount if they find a discrepancy or errors. Because Georgia uses voting machines without a paper trail, only a digital tally exists of votes. That also prevents Abrams from effectively paying for a recount, as Georgia law only allows candidates to pay for recounts in precincts that use paper ballots.
Abrams Obtains Injunctions or Relief in Court
It’s not precisely clear what legal strategy might work, and judges are typically loathe to intervene in election outcomes after voting has occurred. However, the Abrams campaign could sue to demand an intervention that would require examination of alleged voting irregularities and polling-station issues, or to re-examine denied provisionally cast ballots.
The Likely Outcome: Kemp Won
Kemp is certified the winner and takes office.