Now that the US midterm elections are over, Georgia gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp is finally resigning from his post as the state’s top election official.
Kemp had long rejected calls to step down from his position of secretary of state, a role which also oversees the voting process. On Nov. 7, the GOP candidate declared victory in the race for governor. But his Democratic rival Stacey Abrams has yet to concede defeat, citing tens of thousands of votes that have yet to be counted.
As of this morning, Kemp had won roughly 50.3% of the votes counted. Official totals will likely be reported before next week. After resigning at 11:59am EST, Kemp is no longer responsible for certifying that vote count.
If neither candidate obtains a majority, the contest will go to a runoff, as Abrams anticipates. Speaking to supporters yesterday, she said: “Georgia still has a decision to make. If I wasn’t your first choice, or if you didn’t vote, you’re going to have a chance to do a do-over.”
As secretary of state, Kemp sparked concerns that he was using the position to suppress votes for his opponent, a former state House minority leader. He was repeatedly urged to resign from the role by Democrats and voting rights groups alike.
Former US president Jimmy Carter, a former Georgia governor who still lives in the state, also called on Kemp to step down and hand the responsibility over to a “neutral authority.”
A lawsuit filed Tuesday, and decried by Kemp’s spokesperson as a “twelfth-hour stunt,” accused Kemp of misusing ”the official powers of his office to interfere in the election to benefit himself and his political party and disadvantage his opponents.”
Election day itself was mired in difficulties. Polling places around the state were closed down, leading to long lines, while some 50,000 voter registrations–largely black voters—were on hold. (Kemp himself struggled to place his vote.) Voters also reported broken machines and a lack of ballots, resulting in some polling stations remaining open as late as 10pm.
Abrams and her camp have repeatedly alluded to allegations of voter suppression against women and members of ethnic minorities. “This election has tested our faith,” she said, yesterday. “I’m not going to name names, but some have worked hard to take our voices away.”
Speaking to reporters, members of the campaign said absentee and mail-in ballots continued to trickle in.