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Kemp resigns as Georgia secretary of state: 'We won the race and we're moving forward'

Greg Bluestein, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on

Published in News & Features

ATLANTA -- Republican Brian Kemp on Thursday resigned as Georgia's secretary of state, saying he needs to start the work of transitioning to the state's top office after earning a "clear and convincing victory" at the ballot box.

But Stacey Abrams is not conceding anything yet, hopeful that a trove of provisional ballots could be enough to swing the race into a runoff.

Her campaign unveiled a litigation team poised to take the fight to the courts, and that an additional 25,632 Abrams votes will push this race into runoff territory.

Kemp's office has said there are roughly 25,000 outstanding provisional and absentee ballots, but has not yet released a detailed account of where they exist.

"The votes are not there for her," Kemp said. "I respect the hard-fought race she ran. But we won the race and we're moving forward."

His resignation as secretary of state was likely to be assailed by Democrats, who long questioned how he could oversee the state's election process even as he ran for Georgia's highest office.

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Kemp said he wasn't concerned about those critiques and "wasn't going to run from my job," but said that a new secretary of state will "give the public confidence in the certification process" that's expected to be completed next week.

Gov. Nathan Deal appointed longtime ally Robyn Crittenden, who is commissioner of the state Department of Human Services, to the post. He said Kemp's resignation was "very important" to help him prepare for the transition.

The legal battle, meanwhile, is well underway on other fronts.

The state chapter of the NAACP filed a pair of lawsuits claiming that students at Spelman College and Morehouse College were improperly forced to vote with a provisional ballot -- or dissuaded from voting at all -- because their names didn't show up on voter registration lists.

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