Republicans, Democrats countersue over Governor's race

A federal judge heard arguments Tuesday in a lawsuit filed by Democratic nominee for Governor Stacey Abrams and the Georgia Democratic Party on why rejected absentee votes should be counted, while the Georgia Republican Party has filed its own lawsuit to block what they contend is the counting of illegal votes.

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In a news release, the state Republican Party charged Georgia Democrats with trying to manufacture voters in their favor in the courtroom.

In the release, Georgia Republican Party Chairman John Watson said, “The Democrats didn't win on Election Day, and they won't manufacture a win in the courtroom. The latest Democrat lawsuit is not an effort to 'protect democracy,' but an eleventh-hour attempt to silence the voices of almost 2 million Georgians who chose Brian Kemp to be their next Governor.”

The announcement came just hours before the Tuesday afternoon hearing at the U.S. District Courthouse in Atlanta, where attorneys for Abrams argued for their lawsuit that all absentee and provisional ballots that have been rejected “for arbitrary reasons” be counted.

Attorneys also argued people who voted in a county where they were not registered should have their provisional ballots counted.

They also wanted to extend the deadline for all ballots to be counted by one day.  

"The Abrams campaign stands with Georgians.  We're fighting for Republican votes, for Independent votes, for all votes right now.  The administration of this election that was a complete disaster impacts all voters," said Lauren Groh-Wargo, the campaign manager for Stacey Abrams. 

After the hearing that lasted a little more than two hours, Judge Steve Jones said the one day extension has already been discussed in a previous lawsuit. Judge Jones said he intended to rule on the rest of the suit by noon on Wednesday.

Late Monday night, a federal judge ordered Georgia take steps to ensure provisional ballots aren't improperly rejected and to wait until Friday to certify the results of the midterm elections that include an unsettled race for governor.

The judge ordered the secretary of state's office to establish a hotline for voters to check on the status of their provisional ballots and review the eligibility of voters who cast provisional ballots because of registration issues.

As of Tuesday at 5 p.m., the Secretary of State’s official website showed Republican Kemp with 1,977,102 votes or 50.26 percent, Democrat Abrams with 1,919,377 votes of 48.79 percent, and Libertarian Ted Metz with 37,186 votes or 0.95 percent.

If no candidate was to receive a majority of votes, the race would go to a Dec. 4th runoff.

On Tuesday morning, another federal judge ruled in the 7th District Congressional race that all absentee ballots rejected because of issues with the date of birth listed be counted.

In a statement Tuesday, Abrams for Governor campaign manager Lauren Groh-Wargo said, "The rulings from last night and this morning were wins for Georgians' fundamental right — the right to cast a ballot. Given the confusion sowed by the Secretary of State's office last week and the number of voters who experienced irregularities regarding their registration status, these victories were necessary steps in the fight to count every eligible vote in Georgia. We remain grateful to groups like Common Cause who know this is about more than just one campaign — it is about committing to a fairer, more democratic system."

But in a statement to FOX 5, a top Kemp campaign official charged that liberal lawyers were trying to steal the election.

Kemp Communications Director Ryan Mahoney said, "Stacey Abrams and her radical backers have moved from desperation to delusion. On Saturday, military, overseas, and provisional ballots were reported throughout Georgia. The counts are in line with publicly available tracking reports. This is not breaking news and does not change the math. Stacey Abrams lost and her concession is long overdue.

"It's incredibly shameful that liberal lawyers are doubling down on lawsuits desperately trying to create more votes for Stacey Abrams. They don't want to win this election. They are trying to steal it."

Republican Party Chairman Watson added, "As the Democrats continue fundraising off of a fake crisis, the math in this election continues to be clear: Even if 100 percent of the outstanding ballots were valid and in her favor, Stacey Abrams will not have the votes to trigger a run-off or recount."