Stacey Abrams Is Asking the Courts for a New Election

Oprah Winfrey and Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams greet a crowd gathered for a town hall conversation at the Cobb Civic Center's Jennie T. Anderson Theatre in Marietta, Ga., Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018. Winfrey visited Georgia on Thursday to canvass neighborhoods in Metro Atlanta and show her support for gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams. (Alyssa Pointer /Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP)

Stacey Abrams, who is essentially mathematically eliminated from a runoff at this point in Georgia, has decided to take one last shot to keep the grievances rolling in Georgia.


Via the Associated Press:

Allegra Lawrence-Hardy, Abrams’ campaign chairwoman, is overseeing a team of almost three-dozen lawyers who in the coming days will draft the petition, along with a ream of affidavits from voters and would-be voters who say they were disenfranchised. Abrams would then decide whether to go to court under a provision of Georgia election law that allows losing candidates to challenge results based on “misconduct, fraud or irregularities … sufficient to change or place in doubt the results.”

The legal team is “considering all options,” Lawrence-Hardy said, including federal court remedies. But the state challenge is the most drastic. And some Democratic legal observers note Abrams would be dependent on statutes that set a high bar for the court to intervene.

If the Georgia Supreme Court goes along with this, it would mean a new election.

The strategy is a longshot chance to change the rules in Georgia, because it’s all a matter of timing. You can’t change the rules regarding provisional and absentee ballots – the ballots causing the most trouble in Florida and Georgia – after the election has been held.

But, if Abrams wins her suit and the state’s Supreme Court sets another court date, she can sue to change those rules ahead of the new election. This would be an unprecedented and abrupt change to voting procedure and open the door for scandal.


That is if she wins, however. She very likely won’t, and her team knows this. So, what gives?

Well, Erick Erickson, who lives in Georgia and has a pretty good lay of the land, suggests it’s not about the gubernatorial race at all.

Only one Democrat candidate was encouraged to run by the statewide Democratic Party and activists. It was not Stacey Abrams. The candidate is former Congressman John Barrow who is now in a runoff for Secretary of State. All of Abrams’ current efforts and complaints are designed to keep the Democrat base mobilized through a sense of grievance that the Secretary of State is trying to steal the race.

If that grievance sets in sufficiently, Abrams will provide Democrats with a solution. They can show up for the runoff and vote for John Barrow. The gubernatorial race was expensive and exhausting. Voter enthusiasm has been drained as the counting has dragged out. Convincing voters that Brian Kemp rigged the election, stole it, or otherwise caused legitimate votes to be rejected could keep Abrams’ voters engaged enough to go vote for Barrow.

The day after the election, I wrote a warning to Southern states who think they are safely Republican.

If Texas, Florida, and Georgia had run candidates who were more appealing to the center, those races could have flipped easily.

Democrats are making in-roads. Abrams’ strategy of pumping up new registration and pushing hard on GOTV efforts – particularly in black and minority communities – is probably a strategy that will be repeated across the south by Democrats, and it’s not impossible to see them succeeding, either.


However, it’s become so much more than this. They are outright challenging election results and their tactics aren’t just meant to get out more votes, but apparently also meant to provide enough questionable ballots that they can tie elections up in court for weeks.

This is a dangerous path, for sure, and while it may yield short-term dividends, this kind of behavior will only destabilize institutions more. I am yet again unsure as to whether or not the Democrats have actually thought all this through.


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