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Georgia Democrat wants recount in race with GOP congressman

November 16, 2018

ATLANTA (AP) — A Democratic congressional candidate will ask for a recount of the vote in her close race against Republican Rep. Rob Woodall of Georgia, the challenger’s campaign said Friday.

Woodall, a four-term GOP congressman, is struggling to keep his suburban Atlanta seat that had long been considered safe for Republicans. Unofficial election returns in the 7th District show Woodall with a lead of fewer than 500 votes — or about 0.1 percent — over Georgia State University government professor Carolyn Bourdeaux.

“It is crucial that every eligible vote is counted and every voice is heard,” Bourdeaux spokesman Jake Best said in a statement Friday. “We want to make sure every vote was counted correctly and fairly, and that is why we intend to request a recount of this race.”

Best said Bourdeuax will make a formal request after Georgia’s secretary of state certifies the official election results.

Woodall’s campaign manager, Derick Corbett, did not immediately respond to an email message seeking comment.

Georgia law allows a recount if the final vote margin between the candidates is 1 percent or less. A request must be submitted in writing within two business days of the official vote being certified.

Woodall has held the suburban seat since 2011. Before this year, he won each of his campaigns with no less than 60 percent of the vote.

But suburban voters disaffected with President Donald Trump revolted against GOP incumbents across the U.S. this year to help Democrats wrest control of the House. One of those upsets occurred in metro Atlanta’s neighboring 6th District, where Rep. Karen Handel was defeated by Democratic gun control activist Lucy McBath.

Because in-person votes are cast electronically in Georgia, with no auditable paper trail, a recount mostly consists of re-tabulating digital votes already stored on machines. Those results aren’t likely to change.

However, absentee votes and provisional votes — those cast by voters whose eligibility is challenged at the polls — are still cast on paper ballots in Georgia. Counting those a second time has produced minor changes in the vote total during prior elections.

Rather than distance himself from Trump, Woodall campaigned as an experienced lawmaker who could “get results from this president.”

Though a first-time candidate, Bourdeaux isn’t a novice when it comes to government. She’s a professor of public management and policy at Georgia State University in Atlanta and once worked at the state Capitol as director of Georgia’s Senate Budget and Evaluation Office. She ran on restoring and protecting the Affordable Care Act passed under President Barack Obama, a law Woodall opposed.

Bourdeaux’s campaign garnered surprising enthusiasm from donors, considering past low expectations for Democrats in Woodall’s district. She raised more than $1.9 million for the race as of Sept. 30, compared to Woodall’s $1.02 million.

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