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Thursday, August 23, 2012 - 10:22am

Absentee Ballots Impact 12th District Race

Candidates in a close runoff for the 12th district congressional race won’t know who officially won until September 4th. That’s because the state is under court order to allow more time for absentee ballots to come in.

The U.S. Justice Department sued Georgia in July, saying the state didn’t allow enough time for overseas and military voters to cast a ballot. So under court order, the state has to wait until August 31st to receive those ballots.

Lee Anderson leads Rick Allen by 154 votes in the 12th district GOP runoff. But Secretary of State Brian Kemp says there are enough uncounted ballots out there to put that lead at risk.

He says “There’s 139 outstanding. There was more than that to start with. We received some of them election day, and they’ll just kind of be filtering in.”

Kemp says they also have some provisional ballots to count. Those are ballots where there was a question on election day. For example, if someone forgot to bring their I.D., or their polling place was moved due to redistricting.

Candidates have two days after a race is certified to call for a recount if the margin is within one percent. Allen says he wants a recount.

The court order requiring Georgia to extend the voting period for overseas and military cost the state thousands of dollars.

Kemp says he doesn’t have an exact figure, but he estimates it to be in the tens of thousands, not including overtime costs.

“ I can tell the Georgia taxpayers that it cost us a lot of money to put this in place. And that’s very unfortunate. " he says. "That’s one of the things that I was very frustrated with. With the Justice Department and them coming in in the middle of our election to do this. When they could have clearly done this six or eight months ago and we could have addressed it legislatively.”

The state remains under the court order for the November election. Kemp says it is likely that the state legislature will have to address the Justice Department's concerns when lawmakers reconvene in January.