Georgia politician and protesters are arrested in the state capitol as tension over tight governors race comes to a head

Georgia gubernatorial candidates (L-R) Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp debate in an event that also included Libertarian Ted Metz at Georgia Public Broadcasting in Midtown October 23, 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia. John Bazemore-Pool/Getty Images
  • Several people, including a state senator, were arrested during protests inside Georgia’s state capitol on Tuesday.
  • The protests come on the last day of ballot counting in Georgia’s tight gubernatorial race.
  • Republican Brian Kemp is leading Democrat Stacey Abrams with 50.3 per cent of the vote, but the race would go to a runoff if Kemp is pushed below the 50 per cent mark.

Several people were arrested during protests inside Georgia’s state capitol on Tuesday, the last day of ballot counting in Georgia’s tight and contentious gubernatorial race.

State Senator Nikema Williams was arrested after she refused to leave the floor of the capital, despite the fact that she said she was not actively protesting.

“I’m being arrested because I refused to leave the floor of a body I serve in. I’m a state senator. I was not yelling. I was not chanting. I stood peacefully next to my constituents because they wanted their voices to be heard, and now I’m being arrested,” Williams told reporters.

The arrests sparked immediate outrage from the left online.

As of Tuesday, Abrams is trailing Kemp, who has 50.3% of the vote, by about 58,000 votes – or 1.5 percentage points.

Ballots continue to be counted in the state, and a runoff would be triggered if neither candidate earns 50% of the vote in the final count. While Kemp has called Abrams’ refusal to concede “a disgrace to democracy,” thousands of provisional ballots have been counted since election day – including at polling sites that initially said they had completed their counts.

Despite the ongoing count – which will end on Tuesday, both Kemp and Trump have declared Republican victory in the race.

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A federal judge Monday night ordered all of the state’s provisional ballots to be counted and prevented the state from certifying the election before a Friday deadline. Still, Abrams would need over 20,000 more votes to trigger a runoff, which would be held on December 4, and it’s unclear whether there are enough uncounted votes to narrow the gap between Abrams and Kemp.

“We will continue to fight for each and every eligible vote to be counted because in a democracy, every vote should be valued. Georgians deserve nothing less,” Abrams’ campaign manager told NBC News on Saturday.

Further intensifying the contentious battle are charges that the state has engaged in widespread voter suppression. As Georgia’s secretary of state, Kemp purged an unprecedented 1.5 million inactive voters from the rolls and classified over 50,000 voters – the vast majority of whom are black – as “pending” because their information did not precisely reflect data in government records.