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Election uncertainty keeps office hopping
Ballots in the gubernatorial race between Republican Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams are still being counted.

SPRINGFIELD — The frenetic pace leading up to the Nov. 6 general election hasn't subsided for Olivia Morgan and her staff at the Effingham County Elections and Registration Office.

In fact, it might be more hectic than ever thanks to the uncertainty of the Georgia gubernatorial race, which is possibly headed for a runoff. Republican Brian Kemp owns a 60,000 vote lead over Democrat Stacey Abrams but ballots were still being counted Tuesday.

Abrams needs to gain about 20,000 votes to force a Dec. 4 runoff.

"We're just waiting for the official call," said Morgan, the county's election supervisor.

There will definitely be a runoff in the race for secretary of state. Republican Brad Raffensperger owns a 19,000 vote lead on Democrat John Barrow but didn't reach 50 percent threshold needed for victory. He got 49.13 percent of the vote to Barrow's 48.64.

There will also be a runoff in a Public Service Commission race.

Morgan said Effingham County turnout was higher than usual for a midterm election.

"Actually, we were about 2,000 votes shy of the 2016 general election record for early voting so we were pretty close," she said. "It was definitely a record for a midterm. On election day, we were a couple thousand (votes) shy (of a record) but it was a good 10-12 percent above a normal midterm."

Morgan said a gubernatorial runoff, if it occurs, will be uncharted territory for her.

"It's new and I don't ever remember there being a race this tight or this controversial where all this is going on," Morgan said.

Morgan said her office has not been asked to recount Effingham County's votes but it could happen.

"It depends on when they get the final (tally) and how close it is," she said. "If it's within one percent, it's an automatic recount, so we just have to wait and see."

On Monday, a federal judge ordered Georgia to protect provisional ballots and wait until Friday to certify election results. Abrams' campaign manager, Lauren Groh-Wargo, called the ruling "good news."

Kemp, however, maintains that there aren't enough uncounted ballots outstanding to allow Abrams to catch him.

Because of the legal maneuvering, Morgan said early voting may not be an option for the runoff election.

"It just depends on how quickly things can get going with the state, getting everything retested and, you know, we have to get out the absentee ballots back out for the runoff," she said. "It's just a hustle. For a normal election, we would have three weeks of early voting.

"That means we would be starting Monday (Nov. 12)."