Such a move by Abrams would be highly unusual, and perhaps unique in the history of American politics. Such a legal challenge in the unresolved Georgia governor’s race would require that the Georgia Supreme Court decide whether there should be a new election for governor.
“Stacey Abrams campaign and legal team is preparing an unprecedented legal challenge that could force a court to rule whether another election is needed.”
— The Associated Press (@AP) November 16, 2018
The Abram’s strategy apparently has a low chance of success, but the stakes are extremely high. She would rely on a statute that’s never been used in a similar situation. As Georgia elections officials appear to be ready to certify Republican Brian Kemp as the winner of the bitterly fought governor’s race, Abrams probably has nothing to lose.
Abrams and other Georgia Democrats believe that Kemp and his party have not played fair, and have attempted to suppress the votes of African American voters using many different time-tested techniques. She believes a request for a new election is justified because of the Georgia Republican Party’s widespread “electoral malfeasance.”
Abrams’ top advisers discussed the prospective legal case with the AP and stressed no decision has been made.
She will finalize a decision about whether to proceed with the case after state officials certify Kemp as the victor, which could happen as early as Friday night.
Abrams’ campaign chairwoman, Allegra Lawrence-Hardy, has a team of over 30 lawyers who will draft the petition over the next few days. In addition, they have collected large numbers of affidavits from voters and “would-be voters” who have testified that they were disenfranchised because of Republican voter-suppression efforts.
Abrams might then be able to go to court.
She would base the legal challenge on a Georgia election law that allows candidates who have lost an election to challenge the results based on “misconduct, fraud or irregularities … sufficient to change or place in doubt the results.”
According to a spokesperson for Abrams, her legal team is “considering all options” including filing a petition in federal court.
Experts told the AP that in order to be successful Abrams would have to meet a “very high bar” to persuade the Georgia Supreme Court that they should intervene and force a new election.
Without such a drastic move, Abrams chances of becoming governor do not look good. Current vote counts show Kemp with 50.2 percent of more than 3.9 million votes. He is about 18,000 votes over the threshold required to win by a majority and avoid a December 4 runoff.
In her petition to the court, Abrams would claim that so many irregularities occurred that at least 18,000 Georgians either had their ballots improperly thrown out or were not allowed to vote in violation of state laws.
Lawrence-Hardy told the AP that Abrams will weigh legal considerations along with her belief that many of her backers — especially minority and low income voters who don’t regularly vote — ran into barriers that disenfranchised them.
“These stories to me are such that they have to be addressed,” said Lawrence-Hardy, who was among the army of lawyers who worked on the Bush v. Gore presidential election dispute in 2000. “It’s just a much bigger responsibility. I feel like our mandate has blossomed. … Maybe this is our moment.”
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.