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The Latest: 15 arrests at Georgia Capitol vote demonstration

November 13, 2018
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Sen. Nikema Williams (D-Atlanta) is arrested by capitol police during a protest over election ballot counts in the rotunda of the state capitol building Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018, in Atlanta. Dozens filled the rotunda in the center of the Capitol's second floor Tuesday just as the House was scheduled to convene for a special session. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

ATLANTA (AP) — The Latest on the Georgia governor’s race (all times local):

5:15 p.m.

Georgia public safety officials say police arrested 15 protesters during a demonstration inside the state Capitol as they called for uncounted ballots from last week’s election to be tallied.

The Georgia Department of Public Safety said in an emailed statement Tuesday that demonstrators were charged with misdemeanors under a law that makes it illegal to disrupt meetings of the state legislature with “loud, threatening, or abusive language.”

Democratic state Sen. Nikema Williams was among those arrested and taken to the Fulton County jail. Police ordered dozens of demonstrators to disperse from the second-floor rotunda Tuesday afternoon as lawmakers began a special session to approve funds for hurricane recovery.

Supporters of Democrat Stacey Abrams say thousands of uncounted votes could still tip the governor’s race into a Dec. 4 runoff against Republican Brian Kemp.

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2:25 p.m.

Several protesters, including a state senator, have been arrested during a demonstration at the Georgia state Capitol calling for tallying of uncounted ballots from last week’s election.

Sen. Nikema Williams, a Democrat from Atlanta, was led from the statehouse with wrists zip-tied behind her back Tuesday after as Capitol police ordered demonstrators to disperse from the statehouse rotunda.

Williams said she was arrested “because I refused to leave the floor of this building where I’m a state senator.” She said she was “standing peacefully beside constituents I represent.”

Dozens filled the rotunda in the center of the Capitol’s second floor Tuesday just as the House was scheduled to convene for a special session. People chanted “Count every vote!” and held signs with the same slogan.

Supporters of Democrat Stacey Abrams say thousands of uncounted votes could still tip the governor’s race into a Dec. 4 runoff against Republican Brian Kemp.

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1 p.m.

Democratic state lawmakers rallied Tuesday at the Georgia Capitol in support of gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, insisting that thousands of uncounted votes could still tip the governor’s race into a Dec. 4 runoff.

Sen. Nikema Williams of Atlanta and fellow Democrats accused Republican Brian Kemp of bungling the election as secretary of state. They cited problems ranging from long lines at the polls to an “exact match” policy that placed 53,000 Georgians’ voter registrations on hold.

Kemp resigned as secretary of state last week after declaring himself the winner in the governor’s race. He has insisted there aren’t enough outstanding ballots to alter the race’s outcome.

The lawmakers are at the Capitol for a special legislative session.

About 25 black clergy members led by Bishop Reginald T. Jackson, who heads the African Methodist Episcopal Church in Georgia, chanted “Count the votes! All the votes!” before the Democrats’ news conference.

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12:20 p.m.

A federal judge has ordered a populous Georgia county not to reject absentee ballots because the voter’s birth year is missing or wrong.

The order issued Tuesday by U.S. Judge Leigh May says rejecting absentee ballots solely because of a missing or incorrect birth year violates the Civil Rights Act.

She ordered Gwinnett County election officials not to reject those ballots and to count any that were cast in the Nov. 6 midterm election. She also ordered Gwinnett County to delay certification of its election results until those ballots have been counted.

The order stems from requests filed by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and by Democratic congressional candidate Carolyn Bourdeaux.

The race between Bourdeaux and Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall for Georgia’s 7th Congressional District remains too close to call.

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11:30 p.m.

A federal judge has ordered Georgia’s secretary of state to wait until Friday to certify the results of the midterm elections that include an unsettled race for governor and to take steps to protect provisional ballots.

U.S. District Judge Amy Totenberg ruled Monday that the secretary of state must not certify the results of the election until Friday at 5 p.m.

She ordered the state to establish a hotline or website where voters can check whether their provisional ballots were counted and, if not, the reason why.

For all counties with 100 or more provisional ballots, she ordered the secretary of state’s office to order county election officials to conduct a “good faith review” or to do an “independent review” itself of the eligibility of voters who had to cast a provisional ballot because of registration issues.

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