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Georgia's Governor's Race Isn't Settled Yet


In Georgia, people still do not know who their next governor will be. The race between Republican Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams is still too close to call, though the Kemp campaign claimed victory last - late today. This election has had it all - racial undertones, potential conflicts of interest, questions about voter eligibility and election security.

Johnny Kauffman of member station WABE joins us now from Atlanta. Welcome.


CHANG: So where does this race stand right now? What's the latest on the vote count?

KAUFFMAN: It's still kind of a mess here. The Republican Kemp is ahead by some-60,000 votes, which might seem like a lot, but the focus for Democrats right now is not who got more votes. It's about whether there should be a runoff.

And in Georgia, if neither candidate gets 50 percent plus one vote, then there's a runoff. Kemp has about 50.4 percent right now, so Democrats are hoping that will come down below 50 percent. And then there would be a runoff on December 4.

And like you said, late today, the Kemp campaign claimed there's no way for Abrams to force a runoff. But there are still these outstanding military and overseas ballots that have a Friday deadline to be received. So it seems premature to claim victory at this point.

CHANG: OK. So if there is a runoff, Kemp would oversee that. I mean, let's just remind people, Kemp is wearing two hats here. He's running for governor as a candidate, but he's also secretary of state, so he's the top regulator of elections in the state.

KAUFFMAN: Right. The Kemp campaign, Kemp himself has not gotten - given any indication that he would step back if there's a recount or some sort of recanvassing of the votes that are out there right now.

CHANG: OK. So where is the Abrams campaign thinking it will find the votes it needs?

KAUFFMAN: Yeah, the Abrams campaign held a conference call with reporters today before Kemp claimed victory, and they laid out their strategy to push for all votes to be counted. The campaign's big focus is absentee ballots. They say there are thousands yet to be counted.

They're also looking at provisional ballots. There were long lines and technical issues on Election Day that led to more people casting provisional ballots, and they have until Friday to verify those and have those counted. And so then there's just a lot of moving parts here.

CHANG: Yeah. So where has this left Georgia residents? I mean, have you had the chance to talk to people? What are they thinking about this race at this point?

KAUFFMAN: Yeah. I think they're confused and uncertain. We spoke with a number of voters today, including Brent Dey. He's a Democrat in Atlanta. And here's what he had to say about Kemp overseeing the race while he's on the ballot.

BRENT DEY: I'm willing to give our secretary of state the benefit of the doubt in all situations. I don't know if that's rigging or not. I don't know if something funny is going on there or not, but he's set up an environment where the question is in my mind.

KAUFFMAN: However this turns out, it really seems that both sides are going to question the results - for whoever loses.

CHANG: Right.

KAUFFMAN: I mean, Republicans right now are celebrating a Kemp victory. You can see this on Twitter, since Kemp has declared that he's won. And just last weekend, Kemp's office announced an investigation into the state Democratic Party for hacking. The office has not presented any clear evidence of an attempted hack there. So people are frustrated. And we're still waiting to figure out what's really going to happen here.

CHANG: All right. So still a lot left to unfold. That's Johnny Kauffman of WABE in Atlanta. Thank you very much.

KAUFFMAN: Yeah, thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Johnny joined WABE in March, 2015. Before joining the station, he was a producer at Georgia Public Broadcasting, and NPR in Washington D.C.

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